Can Video Games Reverse Childhood Obesity?

Anti-obesity public service ad from the U.K.
Anti-obesity public service ad from the U.K.

Last month, the British government’s Department of Health released this public service announcement.

In response, the videogame news publication MCV lodged an official complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority and drummed up outraged responses from Codemasters, Konami, Sega and Atari as well as the gaming industry body ELSPA.

According to a report by MCV, Sony was even threatening to sue because no permission was sought to use a PlayStation pad.

The ASA also received 25 complaints from members of the public. 25 out of of 60 million people.

So, to avoid any potential lawsuits, the ad was scrapped….

…and replaced with this new anti-obesity government ad.

In this commercial, the animated Change4Life family find ways to get their kids to be active for 60 minutes per day.

Solutions include playing videogames that require physical exertion – think Dance Dance Revolution – as well as walking to school and playing in the park.

But, despite the angle being pushed by this new campaign, the TV ad could still anger the games industry. In an opening scene, one of the characters, voiced by a young girl, is seen doing sedentary activities such as playing an “inactive” video game.

And we wouldn’t want to make the video games industry mad, would we?



There, I said it.

Bring it on video game companies, bring it on.


But wait. Maybe there is a way that video games could actually help to reduce childhood obesity.

I am no technical genius, but doesn’t Nintendo’s Wii Remote, Balance Board, etc already use a variety of motion sensing technologies to enable the user to physically interact with the game.

However, most of that interaction is limited to a series of wrist flicks and thumb action.

What if video games had total body interaction between player and game?

  • If you want your 1st person shooter to run fast, you have to run fast (on the spot, using the Wii balance board).
  • If you want your race car to drive fast, you have to pedal your stationary bike fast (equpped with some form of accelerometer).

Total body interaction…not just thumbs and wrists.

And, I bet that all of the technology required to do this already exists.


But, do we want it?

Would anyone buy it?


If you like what you see here, click here for updates


Related Posts



  1. Errrr, you really need to see the games out on the market these days. I am a hardcore DDR (dance dance revolution) player which is released on virtually every console out there. It is the ultimate weight loss game. Not only does it help improve your self esteem but you gain more than enough exercise.

    The Wii while it provides motion sension techology provides as much physical activity as golf…
    Driving games with a pedal would never work as you will pedal too much and be too exhausted to concentrate on the game properly. Plus gamers want to feel like they are driving for real, not riding a bicycle…
    FPS will in the future provide alot of physical exercise once we have the technology of virtual simulation and also overcome the open space problem.

  2. Thank you for your interesting article. Learned a lot new to subscribe to your news. I would wait for new articles. Good luck.

  3. Kids who get obese are the fault of the parents or responsible adult. Not video games, or rap music, or any other of the myriad ‘eroding influence on Western Society’ Joe Lieberman is complaining about this week.

    This is not an opinion. This is a fact. If you LET your kids play video games for hours and hours without any limits, they will most likely have health problems. This is just basic logic.

    When I was young, I gave my parents a bad scare by playing my brand-new NES for 8 hours straight without bathroom breaks, drinking, or eating. The day after, I had limits on when and for how long I could play my NES. I know it’s not impossible for parents to comprehend “all things in moderation”.

    Why do video games need to provide a way for parents to keep their kids from becoming obese? Are we now so dependent on outside sources for our parenting that we can’t make our kids get outside and play without some electronic gizmo to hypnotize them into doing it? What happened to an ass whupping? What happened to CONSEQUENCES for disobedience?

    When we shift the blame from the controlling body (the parents) and the perpetrating entity (the children) to a wholly tertiary influence (video games, music, movies, television, etc.), we do nothing to help anyone. We do not educate the parents on how to raise their children. We do not teach the children anything valuable. All we say to them is “Neither of you are responsible for your bad behavior. X is responsible.” How is that helping either party?

  4. That’s a great post! I’ll keep reading your blog. Added to it to my favorites bookmarks. Greetings.

Comments are closed.