Video Games Make Kids Fat? Well, Yes and No

Filed under: In The News, Video Games, Activities: Big Kids, Activities: Tweens, Activities: Teens

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Playing interactive video games helps kids stay fit. Credit: Getty Images

Playing video games makes kids fat.

So say researchers at the Eastern Ontario Research Institute in Canada who ... ZAP!

Oops, those guys just got vaporized by researchers at Auckland University in New Zealand, who say playing interactive video games actually helps kids stay fit.

According the New Zealand Herald, researchers looked at 320 kids ages 10 to 14 and found that all leaping and swinging in PlayStation 3 helped them lose a small but definite amount of weight and helped them ... ZAP!

The Canadians are back. They got a second life.

Reuters news service reports those researchers looked at 22 teenage boys with normal weights and found they eat more in an hour of gaming than during the rest of the day combined. They also tend to eat bigger lunches after playing video games.

On average, teenage gamers pack away 163 more calories on days spent with aliens, ogres and orcs.

But just hold your orcs. Here come the New Zealanders, waving data like the Seven Flaming Rings of Raggador.

They say the kids who played dancing, tennis and boxing games put on weight more slowly than the more slothful control groups. All kids gain weight, of course. They're growing. But singing and dancing gamers put on weight at a healthier rate.

Lead New Zealand researcher Ralph Maddison tells the Herald the lesson here is clear. If you're going to kill an ogre, at least swing the virtual sword with your own arm. Don't let a joystick or push button do your dirty work.

"Parents may have more success encouraging the substitution of sedentary video games with more active ones, instead of trying to stop children and young people from gaming altogether," he tells the Herald.

In that regard, New Zealand and Canadian researchers are reading from the same page. Or sacred scrolls, for you gamers out there.

Video games will make you fat unless they make you move.

Related: Video Gamers: The Overeating Defenders of the Universe

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.