Uh-oh, there's a new study, just released by Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital, that undermines the allure of video games promoting physical activity.
Researcher Tom Baranowski has even given the news media a damning quote to bite on, declaring "there's no public health benefit from having those active video games."
But the man had to come up with something strong to rationalize the research bucks Baylor got from the National Cancer Institute and the United States Department of Agriculture/Agriculture Research Service, for this flawed (to my perspective) study.
One set of 9 to 12 year olds was given Nintendo Wii systems (to keep) and their choice of two (of five) games promoted for getting users off their butts and sweating - like "Wii Fit Plus" and "Dance, Dance Revolution." Another, control group was given the Wii and their choice of two (from five) game titles more likely to turn users into couch potatos.
All the subjects were required to wear accelerometers - a belt that measures their activity. Some attempt was also made to compare the habits of users who live either in a safe or a "bad" neighborhood (where mom doesn't want them playing outside.)
After 12 weeks of studies, the researchers "found" that subjects given the passive games exercised just as much. maybe even a tad more, as those with the active.
But really all they proved was the old adage "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink."
There was no pressure, no forced regime put on the subjects to actually make them play the "healthy" games and see if the programs worked as promised.
In fact, the research team said it was perfectly fine for the subjects to acquire and use games with no overt beneficial value - luring them away from the ones that MIGHT have done 'em good. IF they were motivated. IF they wanted to get in shape. IF they had friends who also wanted to shake that thing.