WV Healthwatch: WV Combats Child Obesity with Healthier Diet and… Video Games?!

In a report released back in 2003, West Virginia ranked disturbingly high on the list of states with numerous cases of Child Obesity. However thanks to a combination of vigilance and creativity from West Virginia law makers and educators, the numbers of children suffering from obesity and other weight-related health concerns are dropping.

Many schools superintendents have started cracking down on junk food in their schools — not just banning soda and candy bars on campus, but going as far as eliminating deep fried foods such as chicken nuggets and french fries from the school lunchroom menus. Healthier alternatives such as bottled water and tea, and low-fat entrees — including some ethnic food choices, were instead being served to school children.

Schools have also been encouraging children to become more active. While the more traditional team sports are still more widespread and more popular, some creative parents and educators have hit upon a fresh new idea to introduce exercise in their children’s lives: videogames.

Dance Dance Revolution is a rhythm game invented in Japan, where the player had to dance to frenetic pop tunes while keeping in time to the moving arrows sliding across a screen. It was cool, fun, and did not feel like at all like humdrum exercise, so many children were immediately taken with the game.

Because the game was basically about the player beating the machine, it did not have the competetiveness that intimidated some children from taking part in team sports. As a result, many children who were usually sitting in the sidelines in games of football, basketball, and volleyball, were actively taking part in rounds of Dance Dance Revolution trying to beat their previous scores.

Results show that the game appears to have a positive impact in the general health of children who participated in the West Virginia DDR school projects. As of 2009, West Virginia has ranked lower on the child obesity scale, and the numbers can only get better from there.

The road to good health for our children starts at home. We can help make sure that they do not become overweight by serving healthy snacks and meals in reasonable portions, challenge them into taking up a physical activity or sport, and limit the time they spend in sedentary activities such as surfing the internet.

One Comment