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Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Aug;96(2):234-9. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.111.028423. Epub 2012 Jul 3.

Energy intake and expenditure during sedentary screen time and motion-controlled video gaming.

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  • 1Department of Nutrition, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA.



Television watching and playing of video games (VGs) are associated with higher energy intakes. Motion-controlled video games (MC) may be a healthier alternative to sedentary screen-based activities because of higher energy expenditures, but little is known about the effects of these games on energy intakes.


Energy intake, expenditure, and surplus (intake - expenditure) were compared during sedentary (television and VG) and active (MC) screen-time use.


Young adults (n = 120; 60 women) were randomly assigned to the following 3 groups: television watching, playing traditional VGs, or playing MCs for 1 h while snacks and beverages were provided. Energy intakes, energy expenditures, and appetites were measured.


Intakes across these 3 groups showed a trend toward a significant difference (P = 0.065). The energy expenditure (P < 0.001) was higher, and the energy surplus (P = 0.038) was lower, in MC than in television or VG groups. All conditions produced a mean (±SD) energy surplus as follows: 638 ± 408 kcal in television, 655 ± 533 kcal in VG, and 376 ± 487 kcal in MC groups. The OR for consuming ≥500 kcal in the television compared with the MC group was 3.2 (95% CI: 1.2, 8.4). Secondary analyses, in which the 2 sedentary conditions were collapsed, showed an intake that was 178 kcal (95% CI: 8, 349 kcal) lower in the MC condition than in the sedentary groups (television and VG).


MCs may be a healthier alternative to sedentary screen time because of a lower energy surplus, but the playing of these games still resulted in a positive energy balance. This trial was registered at as NCT01523795.

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