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Active video games: the mediating effect of aerobic fitness on body composition

Ralph Maddison14*, Cliona Ni Mhurchu1, Andrew Jull2, Harry Prapavessis3, Louise S Foley1 and Yannan Jiang1

Author Affiliations

1 Clinical Trials Research Unit, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

2 School of Nursing, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

3 School of Kinesiology, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada

4 Clinical Trials Research Unit, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, 1142, New Zealand

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2012, 9:54  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-9-54

Published: 3 May 2012



Increased understanding of why and how physical activity impacts on health outcomes is needed to increase the effectiveness of physical activity interventions. A recent randomized controlled trial of an active video game (PlayStation EyeToy™) intervention showed a statistically significant treatment effect on the primary outcome, change from baseline in body mass index (BMI), which favored the intervention group at 24 weeks. In this short paper we evaluate the mediating effects of the secondary outcomes.


To identify mediators of the effect of an active video games intervention on body composition.


Data from a two-arm parallel randomized controlled trial of an active video game intervention (n = 322) were analyzed. The primary outcome was change from baseline in BMI. A priori secondary outcomes were considered as potential mediators of the intervention on BMI, including aerobic fitness (VO2Max), time spent in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), and food snacking at 24 weeks.


Only aerobic fitness at 24 weeks met the conditions for mediation, and was a significant mediator of BMI.


Playing active video games can have a positive effect on body composition in overweight or obese children and this effect is most likely mediated through improved aerobic fitness. Future trials should examine other potential mediators related to this type of intervention.

Trial registration

Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry

Website: webcite

Study ID number: ACTRN12607000632493

Active video games; Physical activity; Sedentary behavior; Children; Overweight