Can computer games cure obesity?

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London, Jan 27: What once figured in the hit list of health experts trying to explain an unprecedented rise in the obesity in UK's children, computer games have now emerged as a potential cure for overweight teens. Attempting to improve rate of exercise and indulgence in sports, officials are revamping curriculum of schools across the country to include new generation of "active computer games" to help the youngsters out of their sedentary lifestyles.

Nintendo Wii consoles used to tempt inactive pupils into "virtual PE" was the spurce of the idea. The project, at five schools in Worcestershire, found that children queued up at lunchtimes for their chance on the Wii, which requires users to stand up and move their arms and legs to play games including tennis, baseball, bowling and golf. Heart monitoring revealed that the pupils became fitter with regular use of the consoles.

The scheme follows a report in The British Medical Journal which found that active console games "significantly increased participants' energy expenditure", compared with other systems.

Ten 10 per cent of six-year-olds and 17 per cent of 15-year-olds are now considered obese. Last year, a government report predicted that this would rise to 26 per cent of children by 2050. The report also warned of the life-threatening problems of childhood obesity and predicted a 70 per cent rise in type 2 diabetes, a 30 per cent increase in strokes and a 20 per cent increase in heart disease.

A Department of Health spokesman told The Independent: "We welcome the positive impact that innovations like these can have as a first step towards getting people to participate in a range of physical activities and to enjoy the many benefits of an active lifestyle."


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