Children's Hospital Colorado pediatrician Dr. Christina Suh, who has conducted research on physical activity in overweight and obese children, said it's not encouraging news in terms of using the fitness video games as a tool for tackling the increasing problem of childhood obesity.
"The take-home message is that on a population basis, it looks like using active video games is not an effective way of getting kids to be more active. In other words, if someone thinks of passing out Wii fitness consoles to kids in a public school district, for example, it probably wouldn't be effective in terms of its impact on public health," Suh said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children get at least one hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day, like jump-roping, riding a bike and playing tag, she noted.
"As a pediatrician, when you're prescribing physical activity for a kid to prevent them from becoming overweight, or as a treatment program for obesity, you have to really make that prescription individualized. The key is figuring out what's really fun for that child," Suh said.
She said it's somewhat counterintuitive to recommend children get their daily physical activity from video games.
"It muddles the message pediatricians give to get outside. My feeling is if you're going to be physically active, it makes more sense to play tennis with a family member outdoors than on a video game inside. A tennis racquet and some balls would much cheaper than a video game console, too," Suh said.
Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to see how much physical activity children need.
SOURCES: Tom Baranowski, Ph.D., professor, pediatrics, Children's Nutrition Research Center, department of pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston; Gary Sm
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