Study rubbishes Nintendo health benefits

Nintendo has come under fire from a medical study after the calorie-shedding health benefits of its Wii console were rubbished.

In the past, the Japanese firm has been on the receiving end of reports which have questioned the benefits of games such as Brain Age on the DS.

Now, it seems that one of the principle selling points of the Wii are facing claims that the games will not lead to increased physical activity among kids.

The Wii has been marketed at the health conscious, releasing a string of titles which have gone a long way to changing the perception of the near catatonic couch-bound gamer. For parents, it has been a compromise to allow their children to play video games without vegetating in a darkened room.

Nintendo was something of a pioneer with putting physical interactivity into games, with the movement sensor of the Wiimote allowing for a range of titles involving healthier pursuits such as boxing and aerobics. However, a study at the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas has shown that there is no evidence to show an increase in exercise amongst youngsters.

The study looked at the activity rates of 78 children between 9 and 12 over seven days, with each child given a Wii console and fitted with an accelerometer.

The children were divided into two groups, a control group which played more sedentary games, while the others were given games which involved more activity. Using the accelerometer to measure the amount of movement among the children in each group, the researchers found that there was “no difference in physical activity” between the control group and the study group.

One of the researchers went as far as to claim that “It doesn’t appear that there’s any public health value to having active video games available in stores”.

While those playing active games may have moved around more while playing, any benefits appeared to have been cancelled out by a lack of movement during the rest of the day.

Those who played less active games were thought to be more likely to get out and become more active during the rest of the day. So, it appears that parents buying their children Call Of Duty are just as likely to see the calories flying off their rotund offspring as those vainly hoping their kids will invite friends round for a few hours of Wii Fitness Plus.