Disparities in Physical Activity Behavior Through a Short-Term Active Video Game Intervention in Health-Weight vs. Overweight-Obese Children

Children and Screens

This study evaluated measure the step count, heart rate, number of active game mini-games played, and total duration of active video game play for age- and gender-matched overweight-obese children and normal weight children. The experimental period consisted of three visits to a facility equipped with the Shape Up active video game on an Xbox One console equipped with the Kinect sensor (on the use of which study participants were trained in a preliminary session). Each child in the study wore two ActiGraph activity monitors and a Polar heart rate monitor. Compared to their normal weight peers, the overweight-obese children produced fewer steps, played fewer mini-games and played for a shorter time, but there was no significant difference in the two groups’ average heart rates. Behavioral disparities indicated that the overweight-obese children were less engaged in their active video gaming and got less physical activity (probably due to their poorer motor competence, and possibly due to their greater susceptibility to fatigue). This indicates that childhood obesity may impair or delay children’s development of healthy physical activity behavior. Interventions for childhood obesity prevention should include strategies tailored to the different needs of different weight groups.