Adolescent Exergame Play for Weight Loss and Psychosocial Improvement

This study examines the use of exergames, (i.e., video games that require gross motor skills), to combat growing adolescent obesity rates. It is the first study to demonstrate weight loss from exergame play.

Recruited from an urban public high school, 54 African American students, ages 15 to 19 years, participated. A body mass index at or above the 75th percentile was required. Participants were randomly assigned to a competitive exergame, a cooperative exergame, or a control. Students in the control group did not participate in any gaming. Exergame participants were encouraged to use the Nintendo® Wii Active game for 30 to 60 minutes per school day. Seventy-three percent of the participants remained in the study for 10 weeks, and 54 percent completed the 20-week study.

Key Findings:

  • Participants playing the cooperative exergame worked with a peer, earning points together as a team; they lost significantly more weight (mean = 1.65 kg; SD = 4.52) than the control group.
  • The cooperative exergame condition increased in self-efficacy compared with the control group; peer support also increased significantly in both the competitive and cooperative conditions.

This article, written with support from the Health Games Research national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, provides evidence showing that playing active video games in a cooperative team is a promising approach to help combat the growing obesity crisis among young people.