A systematic review of active video games on youth's body composition and physical activity

Zan Gao, Nan Zeng, Daniel J. McDonough, Xiwen Su

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


In the past decade, active video games (AVGs) have started to find their way into communities, schools, and homes as a possible solution to promote physical activity (PA) and prevent childhood obesity. However, the evidence regarding its effectiveness on body composition and objectively measured PA in youth remains inconclusive. Thus, a systematic review on this topic is needed. This review synthesizes effects of AVGs on body composition and PA in youth. The initial search yielded 260 articles from 10 databases and 18 randomized-controlled trials were included after evaluating against eligibility and removing duplicates. Overall, AVGs showed positive effects in improving body composition and PA in overweight/obese youth as compared to the control conditions with only 2 studies displaying neutral effects on these outcomes as compared to traditional PA or comparison programs. For healthy youth, more than half of the studies (n = 10) demonstrated neutral effects of AVGs on these outcomes whereas only 6 yielded positive effects compared to the control conditions. Further, one study indicated that the control condition observed greater improvement in body composition compared with an AVG intervention in healthy youth. In summary, AVGs are deemed a promising addition to promote PA and health among overweight/obese youth with the goal of fighting childhood obesity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)561-573
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 BioMed Central Ltd.. All rights reserved.


  • body mass index
  • childhood obesity
  • exergaming
  • moderate-to-vigorous physical activity
  • overweight and obesity

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Systematic Review


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