Interactive video games help children battling obesity get fit

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Mataya Stewart admits, "I love video games. They're super fun."< /p>


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She especially loves the kind of video games that make her move like the Wii Fit. Mataya says, "It's really fun and it helps you workout and motivates you."

If 10-year-old Mataya is motivated to lose weight, she can avoid some of the diseases caused by obesity. That is why her family enlisted the help of the Child Obesity Center.

Michaesha Dennis, with the Center, explains, "Video games is part of youth culture today and, rather than if we accept it or like it or not, it's still something they're going to do so we want to teach them how to do it effectively."

Dennis is a certified pediatric obesity specialist and says video games, the interactive type, might, in fact, be a great way for overweight kids to take that first step of exercising.

Dennis says, "It's common knowledge that children play an interactive game are going to burn calories, but one thing that is not common knowledge that a child that is overweight play those same games actually burn six times the amount of calories that a child of normal size."

Scott Keppel, a personal trainer, says, "Over 60% of our population is overweight and sadly that amount of overweight children is rising. It's tripled over the last three decades for children 6 to 11 years old." Keppel also thinks that video games are definitely one piece of the puzzle when trying to get your child back on a healthy track.

He admits, "If we can incorporate any type of activities such as games like the Nintendo Wii or Dance Dance Revolution, they can burn three to six times as many depending on the game."

Keppel also stresses that just because playing video games can help your child burn calories, it does not mean that is the only thing they should do. Keppel explains, "They still need to watch what they're eating and have proper nutrition as well as do exercises in general."

That is exactly what Mataya is doing. She doesn't just play video games, she also gets one-on-one training at Scott's studio. She says, "I feel a lot stronger. The stuff is getting easier for me."

Keppel and Dennis also believe it is important for the parents to play an active role in finding ways to get their child moving again. Keppel says, "She's well on her way to living a healthy life for the rest of her life instead of some quick fix."

Mataya admits, "I'm hoping to make better choices in food and I'm hoping to work out more."

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