Nintendo Wii's latest game Wii Fit is under fire for
telling normal kids that they are obese.
Experts warn that the game, which assesses players'fitness
levels based on their body mass index, labelling them underweight, ideal
weight, overweight or obese, could cause eating disorders and self-esteem
The game, which costs 149.95 dollars, was launched in
Australia in May and includes a weight- and motion-sensitive balance board,
which players can use for yoga, muscle workouts, aerobic exercises and balance
As per the findings of Shirley Alexander, staff specialist
in childhood and adolescent weight management services at The Children's
Hospital at Westmead, the BMI was not even ideal for measuring adult fitness,
let alone that of children.
To prove the findings of Alexander, Nintendo admitted the
BMI calculations were based on adult measurements and might not be accurate for
"Anyone that's even overweight can actually be fit,
[although] the more overweight you are the less likely you are to be fit,"
The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Professor Alexander as saying.
"But with children they have more fatty tissue at
different periods of their life and they have a larger body surface area
relative to adults. The BMI is still worked out on height and weight but the
age of the child has got to be taken into account," she said.
The game's defective workings were further exposed when a
father reported that his 10-year-old daughter - who weighs 42 kilograms and
maintains an active lifestyle - was "devastated" after Wii Fit deemed
her to be fat, sparking outrage in Britain recently.
The incident escalated when another British girl, an 11 year
old weighing 44 kilograms, told her mother she wanted to go on a diet after Wii
Fit called her overweight, the BBC reported.
"For someone to be told that they're in the unhealthy
weight range when they're not, particularly for children and girls, that will
have self-esteem and image issues," Professor Alexander said.
Nintendo spokeswoman Heather Murphy said Wii Fit was capable
of measuring the BMI for people aged between two and 20 but the resulting
figures would not be entirely accurate for younger age groups due to varying
levels of development, sex and age.
"The BMI results will differ depending on an
individual's stage of development, so the resulting figures should be used for
reference purposes only," Murphy said.
"Parents who are concerned that their children
will react negatively to one of the four BMI categories should use Wii Fit in
such a way that the BMI tracker does not appear on screen," she added.