A meta-analysis of active video games on health outcomes among children and adolescents

Obes Rev. 2015 Sep;16(9):783-94. doi: 10.1111/obr.12287. Epub 2015 May 6.


This meta-analysis synthesizes current literature concerning the effects of active video games (AVGs) on children/adolescents' health-related outcomes. A total of 512 published studies on AVGs were located, and 35 articles were included based on the following criteria: (i) data-based research articles published in English between 1985 and 2015; (ii) studied some types of AVGs and related outcomes among children/adolescents and (iii) had at least one comparison within each study. Data were extracted to conduct comparisons for outcome measures in three separate categories: AVGs and sedentary behaviours, AVGs and laboratory-based exercise, and AVGs and field-based physical activity. Effect size for each entry was calculated with the Comprehensive Meta-Analysis software in 2015. Mean effect size (Hedge's g) and standard deviation were calculated for each comparison. Compared with sedentary behaviours, AVGs had a large effect on health outcomes. The effect sizes for physiological outcomes were marginal when comparing AVGs with laboratory-based exercises. The comparison between AVGs and field-based physical activity had null to moderate effect sizes. AVGs could yield equivalent health benefits to children/adolescents as laboratory-based exercise or field-based physical activity. Therefore, AVGs can be a good alternative for sedentary behaviour and addition to traditional physical activity and sports in children/adolescents.

Keywords: Body composition; cardiovascular fitness; energy expenditure; moderate-to-vigorous physical activity.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Composition
  • Child
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Humans
  • Motor Activity
  • Pediatric Obesity / etiology
  • Pediatric Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Physical Fitness
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Video Games*