The energy cost of playing active video games in children with obesity and children of a healthy weight

Type Article

Journal Article


C. O'Donovan; E. F. Roche; J. Hussey

Year of publication



Pediatr Obes








BACKGROUND: Increasing physical activity and reducing sedentary behaviour form a large part of the treatment of paediatric obesity. However, many children today spend prolonged periods of time playing sedentary video games. Active video games (AVGs) represent a novel and child friendly form of physical activity. OBJECTIVES: To measure the energy cost of playing two AVGs in children with obesity and healthy age- and gender-matched children. METHODS: The energy cost of gaming and heart rates achieved during gaming conditions were compared between groups. RESULTS: AVG play can result in light-to-moderate intensity physical activity (2.7-5.4 metabolic equivalents). When corrected for fat-free mass those with obesity expended significantly less energy than healthy weight peers playing Nintendo Wii Fit Free Jogging (P = 0.017). No significant difference was seen between groups in the energy cost of playing Boxing. CONCLUSION: Certain AVGs, particularly those that require lower limb movement, could be used to increase total energy expenditure, replace more sedentary activities, or achieve moderate intensity physical activity among children with obesity. There seems to be some differences in how children with obesity and children of a healthy weight play AVGs. This could result in those with obesity expending less energy than their lean peers during AVG play.