Playing computer games could help shift around 27lb in weight each year, scientists claim.
Experts have discovered new style games consoles such as the Nintendo Wii – where players use body movements to control the game – help burn calories and increase heart rates.
The study was carried out by scientists at Liverpool John Moores University to establish whether computer games can contribute to the daily activity recommendations for children.
They compared activity levels during gaming using the Wii with those achieved using traditional seated joypad-controlled consoles.
The results indicated that more active forms of gaming increased energy expenditure to a level which could help lose weight.
Professor Tim Cable, who carried out the study, said: ‘Through our testing it is clear that the motion sensor-controlled console can make an impact on a child’s heart rate, energy expenditure and the amount of calories burned.
‘Research from GameVision’s Consumer Intelligence Report shows that, on average, gamers in the UK currently spend around 12.2 hours a week playing computer games. Therefore, it is important to promote as much activity as possible during this time.
‘Active consoles such as the Wii could provide a means of motivating children who are less active.
‘However, parents should encourage other physical activities and outdoor pursuits in order for their children to lead well-balanced lives.’
The study measured the energy expenditure, calories burned and heart rate of five girls and seven boys, aged between 13 and 15, playing both an active and inactive console.
During 15 minutes of play using a traditional joypad operated console, energy expenditure increased above resting values by an average 60 per cent.
In comparison, when using the Wii console, the participants’ energy expenditure increased 156 per cent above resting.
Based on the average gaming week of 12.2 hours, this translates to a potential 1,830 calories burned per week when using Wii, 40 per cent more than when using a traditional format console.
In both conditions the energy expenditure of boys was greater than that observed for girls.
Heart rates were also much greater when using the active console, reaching values of 130 beats per minute, compared with 85 beats per minute for the traditional console.