Could playing video games help kids lose weight, gain confidence?

Child obesity more than doubled between 1980 and 2012, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls it an “epidemic.”

(Article by CBS News)

But what if video games could actually help kids lose weight?

A new study by a group of Louisiana researchers is showing how they can actually play a big role in children’s health, reports CBS News correspondent Jamie Wax.

Jerry Walker is a dancing machine, but it’s not all fun and games – there’s a mission behind the 12-year-old’s moves.

“I’m like, “Oh, yes, I am so ready to get in shape. I will get in shape,'” Jerry said.

Jerry’s collecting points for accurate steps, but researchers are collecting more vital information, as part of a study to see whether video games can actually help him lose weight. Researchers purchased Xboxes, then asked Jerry – and other kids like him – to play for one hour, three nights a week. After six months, they’ll measure his weight, blood pressure and cholesterol. For support, kids have to play with a family member. Jerry chose his mom, Marisa.

“Not only do I worry about his health, I worry about mine,” his mother said.

“I think parents should take a moment to ask their children, ‘What do you get excited about?’ And if it seems like the child’s interested in video games, then give one of these active video games a try,” said Dr. Amanda Staiano, who developed the video game study at Louisiana State University’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center.

“I don’t think we should ever replace outdoor activity with these indoor options. But we should also recognize that we’ve got to provide alternatives for kids, especially during that after-school time when many of them may be alone,” Staiano said.

That’s when kids are spending more time in front of a screen. More than 60 percent of kids between ages eight and 18 play video games for over an hour every day. The government recommends that young people get an hour of daily physical activity, yet only 27 percent meet that goal.

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