January 2, 2009

Determining if Nintendo Wii Fit works

A U.S. researcher wants to know if a popular holiday gift -- the Nintendo Wii Fit video game console -- improves family fitness.

University of Mississippi researcher Scott Owens began the six-month study this fall and is following eight families who have been loaned a Nintendo Wii to use for three months.

Obesity has become an epidemic in the United States, and one of the reasons is the adults and children are getting less physical activity, Owens says in a statement. There has been an upswing in sales of whole body movement video games over the past few years. This potentially could help family fitness, so we are looking at the research aspect to see if family fitness improves after purchasing one of these whole body movement game consoles.

The study is broken into two parts so that each family's fitness is charted during three months with the game system in the home and three months without.

Software on the game consoles uses individual profiles to keep track of how much each family member uses the games and how much movement is involved in that use. This information plus fitness measurements, will be used to determine if the games made a difference in overall fitness.