The Wii Weight Loss Plan

Thursday, September 6, 2007 - 12:08pm

By Cynthia York-Camden MS, RD, LDN

The Wii Weight Loss Plan seeks to promote weight loss by burning extra calories using Nintendo's Wii Sport System. The Wii includes a hand held wireless wand that requires the player to move around using arm motions (which are performed either standing or sitting). Wii games include tennis, golf, baseball, bowling, and more. Gamers who have tried this weight loss plan report losing 10 to 39 pounds in less than two months by including at least 30 minutes per day of Wii game play along with regular aerobic exercise and healthier eating.

The Wii Diet

Successful losers on this plan report identifying high-fat and high-calorie items in their diet that they can gradually eliminate. General guidelines include eating less junk food, such as chips, crackers, candy bars, ice-cream, sodas, fried foods, and fast food. Many found meal replacement techniques to be useful (i.e., a healthy shake, a low-calorie snack bar, or frozen reduced-calorie meal). Some Wii weight loss participants did not change their usual eating habits. There are no set eating guidelines and each loser must identify their own problem food(s).

Wii exercise

Wii Weight Loss Plan participants usually play Wii Sports games 30-45 minutes daily. Successful losers report adding extra regular aerobic exercise to their plan such as walking, jogging, using the treadmill, or other aerobic activity. In addition to daily Wii play, about 30 minutes of aerobic exercise is needed three to five times per week to promote the greatest amount of weight loss.

Calories burned with the Wii and preliminary research

Research performed earlier this year by Professor Tim Cable at John Moores University in Liverpool indicates that using the Wii results in an average of 40% more calories burned, when compared to using traditional gaming equipment. The average number of hours children in the UK spend gaming each week is 12.2 hours; if that time was spent on the Wii as opposed to other more traditional video games, children could burn approximately 1830 calories per week! This is because the energy expenditure of using the Wii is 156% above resting, while the energy expenditure of using a traditional joypad is 60% above resting. Dr. Cable's small study was performed on boys and girls age 13-15 years of age, and concluded that the calories burned could result in a loss of as much as 27 pounds per year when played regularly.

We all can be winners with the Wii

Weight loss with the Wii appears safe, when combined with a balanced diet and exercise program. It provides a way to enjoy video gaming while improving overall health. The Wii provides a way to slowly increase activity, which for some may make this a good starting point for losing weight. To date there are not enough well-controlled studies to show whether this plan will work for the general population.

References:

  1. The Wii Weight Loss Plan. Accessed August 11, 2007 http://www.wiiweightlossplan.com
  2. The McCook Gazette. Will new video games be key to physical fitness? Accessed August 11, 2007 http://www.mccookgazette.com/story/print/1197951.html
  3. University of Pittsburgh; Seventh Annual Freshman Conference (April 14, 2007). Technology Turnaround: A New Generation of Games to Get us Moving and Stimulate our Minds. Accessed August 11, 2007. http://fie.engrng.pitt.edu/eng12/Author/final/7093.pdf
  4. Mickey DeLorenzo. Wii Sports Experiment Results. Accessed August 11, 2007. http://wiinintendo.net/2007/01/15/wii-sports-experiment-results/
  5. Crandell R. W., Sedack J. G. Video Games; Serious Business for America's Economy. Accessed August 28, 2007 http://www.theesa.com/files/VideoGames-Final.pdf
  6. Liverpool John Moores University News. Playing computer games can 'burn up calories. Accessed August 31, 2007. http://www.ljmu.ac.uk/NewsUpdate/index_86603.htm