Can exergaming reduce high BMI in children?

  • Staiano AE & al.
  • Pediatr Obes
  • 20 Jul 2018

  • curated by Emily Willingham, PhD
  • Clinical Essentials
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Takeaway

  • Using exercise-based games at home helps children reduce BMI and improve physical activity levels, along with boosting cardiometabolic health.
  • Adherence is quite high.

Why this matters

  • Children in the digital age need effective options to promote physical activity and curb obesity.

Key results

  • Adherence was 94.4%.
  • Intervention vs controls (an outlier excluded):
    • BMI z-score change (standard error; SE): −0.06 (0.03) vs 0.03 (0.03); P=.016.
    • BMI z-score in intent-to-treat analysis: 0.06 (0.03) vs 0.02 (0.03); P=.065.
  • Intervention also significantly improved:
    • Systolic BP (percentile, SE): −5.0 (5.1) vs 10.9 (5.0), P=.036;
    • Diastolic BP (percentile, SE): −7.4 (4.3) vs 8.3 (4.2), P=.017;
    • Total cholesterol (mg/dL, SE): −7.1 (3.5) vs 6.7 (3.5), P=.011; 
    • Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (mg/dL, SE): −4.9 (3.1) vs 7.4 (3.1), P=.010; and
    • Physical activity (minutes/day): 3.6 (3.4) vs −7.8 (3.2), P=.028.
  • Favorite exergames: Kinect Sports Season 2, Just Dance 3.

Study design

  • Randomized controlled trial, 46 children with overweight/obesity.
  • Intervention (23 children, their families) was 24-week exergaming (1 hour/session, 3x/week) vs control (no behavioral changes; 23 children, their families).
  • Video chat for telehealth coaching.
  • Outcome: BMI z-score.
  • Funding: NIH, American Heart Association.

Limitations

  • Small sample size, although power was sufficient for primary outcome.
  • Adherence to gaming at home based on self-report.

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