Active video games as a tool to prevent excessive weight gain in adolescents: rationale, design and methods of a randomized controlled trial

Monique Simons, Mai J M Chinapaw, Maaike van de Bovenkamp, Michiel R de Boer, Jacob C Seidell, Johannes Brug, Emely de Vet

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: Excessive body weight, low physical activity and excessive sedentary time in youth are major public health concerns. A new generation of video games, the ones that require physical activity to play the games--i.e. active games--may be a promising alternative to traditional non-active games to promote physical activity and reduce sedentary behaviors in youth. The aim of this manuscript is to describe the design of a study evaluating the effects of a family oriented active game intervention, incorporating several motivational elements, on anthropometrics and health behaviors in adolescents.

METHODS/DESIGN: The study is a randomized controlled trial (RCT), with non-active gaming adolescents aged 12-16 years old randomly allocated to a ten month intervention (receiving active games, as well as an encouragement to play) or a waiting-list control group (receiving active games after the intervention period). Primary outcomes are adolescents' measured BMI-SDS (SDS=adjusted for mean standard deviation score), waist circumference-SDS, hip circumference and sum of skinfolds. Secondary outcomes are adolescents' self-reported time spent playing active and non-active games, other sedentary activities and consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. In addition, a process evaluation is conducted, assessing the sustainability of the active games, enjoyment, perceived competence, perceived barriers for active game play, game context, injuries from active game play, activity replacement and intention to continue playing the active games.

DISCUSSION: This is the first adequately powered RCT including normal weight adolescents, evaluating a reasonably long period of provision of and exposure to active games. Next, strong elements are the incorporating motivational elements for active game play and a comprehensive process evaluation. This trial will provide evidence regarding the potential contribution of active games in prevention of excessive weight gain in adolescents.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: Dutch Trial register NTR3228.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275
JournalBMC Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2014


  • Adolescent
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Pediatric Obesity
  • Perception
  • Research Design
  • Sedentary Lifestyle
  • Skinfold Thickness
  • Video Games
  • Waist Circumference
  • Weight Gain
  • Journal Article
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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