Fighting Childhood Obesity: One Useful Purpose For Video Games

I don't have much use for video games, and you shouldn't either. They feed the epidemic of childhood obesity that keeps kids glued to the couch for hours and away from the playground and better health. However, West Virginia officials have put video games to good use as a tool to keep youngsters moving.

One of the "leading states" in the country for a very embarrassing reason -- high levels of obesity -- West Virginia launched a pilot plan about a year ago, installing the "Dance Dance Revolution" video game in 20 middle schools, believing kids between ages 10-14 are at the right time in their development to learn how to make the best decisions for their health.

The game involves kids moving their feet around a mat based on what symbols they see on a monitor, not unlike a high-tech game of "Twister" set to music. Thankfully, this game isn't designed to replace physical education classes, rather to give students one more fun activity they can do instead of playing sports they don't like, officials said.

The game has turned out to be a big hit, as it will be installed in the state's 157 middle schools soon, and expand to all 753 schools within three years. Perhaps, schools can pay for this activity by using some of the money they extort from kids addicted to soft drinks they sell in cafeteria vending machines.

MSNBC January 25, 2006

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