Effects of a pediatric weight management program with and without active video games

Trost, Stewart G., Sundal, Deborah, Foster, Gary D., Lent, Michelle R., & Vojta, Deneen (2014) Effects of a pediatric weight management program with and without active video games. JAMA Pediatrics, 168(5), pp. 407-413.

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Active video games may offer an effective strategy to increase physical activity in overweight and obese children. However, the specific effects of active gaming when delivered within the context of a pediatric weight management program are unknown.


To evaluate the effects of active video gaming on physical activity and weight loss in children participating in an evidence-based weight management program delivered in the community.

Design, Setting, and Participants

Group-randomized clinical trial conducted during a 16-week period in YMCAs and schools located in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Texas. Seventy-five overweight or obese children (41 girls [55%], 34 whites [45%], 20 Hispanics [27%], and 17 blacks [23%]) enrolled in a community-based pediatric weight management program. Mean (SD) age of the participants was 10.0 (1.7) years; body mass index (BMI) z score, 2.15 (0.40); and percentage overweight from the median BMI for age and sex, 64.3% (19.9%).


All participants received a comprehensive family-based pediatric weight management program (JOIN for ME). Participants in the program and active gaming group received hardware consisting of a game console and motion capture device and 1 active game at their second treatment session and a second game in week 9 of the program. Participants in the program-only group were given the hardware and 2 games at the completion of the 16-week program.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Objectively measured daily moderate-to-vigorous and vigorous physical activity, percentage overweight, and BMI z score.


Participants in the program and active gaming group exhibited significant increases in moderate-to-vigorous (mean [SD], 7.4 [2.7] min/d) and vigorous (2.8 [0.9] min/d) physical activity at week 16 (P < .05). In the program-only group, a decline or no change was observed in the moderate-to-vigorous (mean [SD] net difference, 8.0 [3.8] min/d; P = .04) and vigorous (3.1 [1.3] min/d; P = .02) physical activity. Participants in both groups exhibited significant reductions in percentage overweight and BMI z scores at week 16. However, the program and active gaming group exhibited significantly greater reductions in percentage overweight (mean [SD], −10.9% [1.6%] vs −5.5% [1.5%]; P = .02) and BMI z score (−0.25 [0.03] vs −0.11 [0.03]; P < .001).

Conclusions and Relevance

Incorporating active video gaming into an evidence-based pediatric weight management program has positive effects on physical activity and relative weight.

Impact and interest:

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14 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 71716
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
DOI: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.3436
ISSN: 2168-6203
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Preventive Medicine (111716)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Exercise & Nutrition Sciences
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 American Medical Association
Deposited On: 16 May 2014 01:51
Last Modified: 20 May 2014 03:47

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