Obesity Risk Among Kids Could be Reduced by Virtual Pets

by Dr. Enozia Vakil on May 15 2014 6:19 PM

 Obesity Risk Among Kids Could be Reduced by Virtual Pets
Preschool kids placed into a mixed reality-part virtual environment and part real world has potential for increasing their physical activity and decreasing the risk of obesity, a new research has found.
Sixty-one Georgia 4-H'ers, 9-12 years old, participated in a study designed by University of Georgia researchers to increase awareness and reduce childhood obesity. Participants set goals for the amount of physical activity they wanted to complete throughout the day over a course of three days. An activity monitor was worn to track their activity.

Children were split into two groups but only one group was allowed to train, exercise and play with an obese, virtual dog. The pet, and overall game platform, was developed by an interdisciplinary group of UGA researchers from the College of Engineering, Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Researchers found the group of children allowed to interact with the virtual pet averaged 1.09 hours of additional physical activity per day when compared to the group without the pet.

The study has been published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics.