Video game used to combat obesity

Published 9:37 pm Thursday, June 10, 2010

If you thought video games only helped aid a sedentary lifestyle, think again.

Kingston Elementary School, along with five other schools, partnered with Alabama State University, the Alabama Health and Recreation Department, the Governor’s Commission on Physical Fitness, the Alabama Sports Festival and the Mid-South Resource Conservation and Development Council in the “Wee Can Fight Obesity” campaign.

The pilot campaign seeks to give third graders from the selected schools the chance to have a new look on exercise by bringing a variety of gaming software including a Wii Fit Plus Bundle.

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The campaign will allow for the motion-based system to be used during the Physical Education classes in order to promote health, physical activity and awareness of obesity risks.

“The idea came from research that I did of some other states using other forms to get kids excited,” said Drayton Cosby, public relations coordinator for the Alabama Sports Festival. “West Virginia has a Dance Dance Revolution program included in their physical education.”

Cosby said last summer the ASF met with several other commissions to discuss what could be done to get more children excited about exercise in a state that has the second highest obesity rating in the United States.

“Obesity is becoming the leading health challenge for the United States,” said Senator Hank Sanders. “It is particularly challenging for the people in Alabama. It is starting at an earlier age, so anything we can do to stem the tide of obesity should be done.”

Cosby said each child with have body mass index tests done at the beginning, middle and end of the twelve-week project.

“We tried to focus on rural and urban areas,” said Cosby. “Those areas typically have a higher level of obesity than others. The results will be known only by the student, their parents, their teacher and the school nurse,” said Cosby.

Cosby said he hopes the schools will get an early start on the campaign and be able to participate in a special challenge designed to see how well the students can do.

“We will have a Wii Fit Challenge at the Alabama Sports Festival (June 18) for participating schools,” said Cosby. “The winner will receive a $1,000 donation to his or her school and all of the other participating schools will receive a $200 donation.”

Sanders said he hopes to see the program achieve the goals that it has set to allow for growth.

“I believe in the program,” said Sanders. “If we get the results that we hope for, I will push to see that other schools and children benefit from the campaign.”