Research Project Updates
Ann Maloney, MD
Research indicates that childhood obesity rates have tripled in the last few years, hitting Maine particularly hard. For busy families, a central challenge for preventing childhood obesity and creating a healthy balance in the lives of children is to increase their levels of physical activity and decrease the amount of sedentary screen time. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has awarded $200k from the Health Games Research to test the feasibility of the popular exergame called Dance Dance Revolution (DDR). In addition, the USDA has also supported the study of Exergames with a second grant to Maloney and team. The purpose of this study is to determine if a family-friendly interactive game can promote healthy physical activity. Basic measurements of height, weight, body mass index and brief family history is taken at the time of enrollment. Study participants are randomly assigned to either Group 1 who receive a DDR and Pedometer or Group 2 who receive a pedometer only. At the end of 12 weeks each family returns for a wrap up session which includes taking basic measurements again collection of activity logs and completion of the study survey.
To date the exergaming study has enrolled a total of 68 families participants, which is 97% of our goal. Most subjects have completed the study. Preliminary data indicate that families are more mindful of activity and compete with each other for top pedometer scores, encouraging more movement. Main findings are projected to be complete by May, 2010 for the "Games for Health" conference. Future goals of the study will be characterize the role of games, pedometer-measured activity and the role of family encouragment in pediatric obesity. We also measure self-efficacy and barriers to behavior changes, which we hope will be helpful in planning future, larger studies in obese or overweight families.