Tags: NIH | National Institutes of Health | 10 million | kids | weight

NIH Spends $10M on Video Games to Get Kids to Lose Weight

By    |   Friday, 14 November 2014 05:25 PM

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) spent over $10 million on two video games designed to influence overweight kids to skip junk food and peel off pounds.

However, while the kids in follow-up tests upped their fruit and vegetable intake by 0.67 percent, they did not increase their exercise activity, except, perhaps, for their thumbs.

Now, the NIH even lists the games under their "Success Stories" on the NIH website.

Between 2003 and 2008, NIH gave video game developer Archimage $9,091,409 to develop two video games, including "Escape From Diab" in which an inner city kid tries to flee an imaginary town where residents are only allowed to eat junk food, the Free Beacon reports.

In the second video game, "Nanoswarm: Invasion from Inner Space," children who live in an "almost perfect" world, with a female president, battle obesity and Type II diabetes.

Followup clinical studies of the effectiveness of the games cost $1,760,807 million in another three grants between 2012-2014 to the Baylor College of Medicine.

A government report on the project notes that the games are "guided in their design by four behavior change theories that were targeted at increasing fruit, vegetable and water intakes and lowering sedentary behaviors."

However, Science20 noted, "No kidding, the kids are playing video games about food but they ate 0.67 more servings of fruits and vegetables. Just what fat kids need — more calories and no exercise."

The Week commented, "The stereotype of an obese person staying inside playing video games apparently didn't faze the federal government when it decided to invest more than $10 million in taxpayer money to fight obesity with a video game."

Pete Sepp, president of the National Taxpayers Union, tells Newsmax, "Is childhood and teen obesity a problem? Yes, but we have many public health problems and the whole point of budgets is to try to prioritize where this money should be spent. Video games certainly are not very high on the list."

So where can you buy and play these games? You can't.

Richard Buday, president of Archimage, tells Newsmax that the games are currently in "clinical trials" and have "not yet been released commercially."

"What we are looking for are changes in behavior. Hopefully they will get kids to eat better and exercise more, but we were not able to see any increase in physical activity outside of game playing," he tells Newsmax.

Buday expects to see the games released commercially within a year to 18 months.
Sepp tells Newsmax, "Even if the video might have show some effectiveness on the dietary side, how widely adopted will it be among its target audience? That's an important consideration given the expenditure."

Buday notes that there have been queries about the availability of the games from "consumers, schools and health care organizations" and added that the games "have been very well received in the world of behavior science and dietary intervention."

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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) spent over $10 million on two video games designed to influence overweight kids to skip junk food and peel off pounds.
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Friday, 14 November 2014 05:25 PM
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