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Exergames don't combat sedentary lifestyles, says study

Children compensate for active gaming by exercising less elsewhere

A study of children using a number of high-impact exercise games has shown that having them in the home does not actually increase the amount of exercise which members of that household participate in.

A US university study, reported by the New York Times, reveals that, instead of encouraging children to become more active generally, playing games based around physical activity merely leads them to over-compensate in other areas, resulting in no net gain on calories burned.

Having distributed a number of Wiis to families with overweight children, some with exergames and some without, the study confirmed a long-held academic principle: that a sedentary lifestyle is a tremendously difficult habit to break, finding "no evidence that children receiving the active video games were more active in general, or at any time, than children receiving the inactive video games."

It's not the first study to have similar findings. A previous investigation into the use of Wii Sports in homes discovered a rapid fall off in usage statistics in the weeks following purchase after an initial flurry if enthusiasm.

Asked for comment on the studies by the NYT, Nintendo offered a predictably anodyne statement.

"While Nintendo does not make any health claims with active-play games like Wii Sports and Wii Fit Plus, we hope that the games encourage users to be more physically active. They are designed to get people up off the couch and to have fun."

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