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Photo provided by Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Lawrenesha Bouvay, center, exercises with Pennington Biomedical exercise coaches Mallory Pace, left, and Dr. Ashley Cueller, right. Bouvay participated in the Klub Kinect study, which researched whether video games could help teenage girls lose weight.
Photo provided by Pennington Biomedical Research Center

To stay healthy, kids might not have to press pause on their video game habits.

Playing active video games that encourage dancing and low-intensity activity may actually help overweight and obese kids lose weight, according to researchers at Baton Rouge’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center.

One in five American children is obese, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with Louisiana ranking fourth in the nation in childhood obesity.

With children spending about eight hours a day in front of screens — TVs, video games or computers — using video games to help kids lose fat or maintain a healthy weight is practical, said Amanda Staiano, a Pennington researcher studying video games’ effect on obesity.

“I don’t think screen time is an absolute solution by any means, but it needs to be part of the solution,” Staiano said. “We’re all using screens all the time, adults are, too. That’s just how our culture has evolved.”

This month Staiano began a study of obese boys and girls ages 10 to 12 who supplement their physical activity with active video games. Called Game Squad, the study recruits area youngsters and supplies them with an Xbox gaming system, a package of games and a FitBit activity monitor.

The 24-week study matches children with a coach who will teleconference with them via their Xbox every week and encourage them. They increase their daily activity over the first few weeks to reach the doctor-recommended 60 minutes per day. Participants only play on the Xbox three days a week — they have to find other ways to get moving the other four.

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Research Details

  • Research Center: Pennington Biomedical Research Center
  • Featured NORC Member(s): Amanda Staiano, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pediatric Obesity and Health Behavior

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