A British study has revealed that playing interactive sports video games like the Nintendo Wii help children burn over 50 per cent more energy than playing sedentary computer games like Xbox does.
However, the study also reveals that the children use much less energy playing virtual sports than they would in the real versions.
Associate Professor David Dunstan, head of the physical activity lab at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, points out that real boxing burns more than twice as much energy as Wii boxing, and real tennis is 77 per cent more demanding than the electronic version.
Reported in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the study suggests that a child who played Wii sports would use about two per cent more energy than the one who played sedentary computer games in a week.
The authors of the study said that the increase was "trivial", and that the activity was not intense enough to be counted in the recommended daily amount of physical activity.
They, however, agreed that such games were preferable to sedentary games.
Dunstan said that further research was needed to determine what role such games might play in metabolic health, since various studies have linked too much sitting with heightened risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, irrespective of how much moderate to vigorous exercise people did at other times of the day.
He said that interactive games could be useful in helping to increase people's level of activity throughout the day.
Nintendo Australia public relations manager Heather Murphy conceded that playing Wii was not a substitute for more vigorous activity.
"But it's a great way for people to ease into exercise or to complement what they're already doing," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted her as saying.