The British government is considering whether to expand the use of the Wii in schools to provide “virtual PE lessons” and encourage students to take and enjoy more exercise.
A report in The Independent on Sunday
suggests that child obesity rates in the UK have trebled over the last twenty years, mirroring data compiled in other Western countries. This has led to a 70 percent increase in type 2 diabetes, a 30 percent increase in strokes and a 20 percent increase in heart disease.
The concept of using selected Wii titles to augment traditional Physical Education (PE) lessons has already been used in trials at five schools in Worcestershire, with children queuing up to play the console at lunch time. As a result, the Droitwich and Worcester City School Sport Partnership program won an award for its contribution to increasing participation in physical activity.
The Independent on Sunday report quotes a Department of Health spokesman as saying: "We welcome the positive impact that innovations like these can have as a first step towards getting people to participate in a range of physical activities and to enjoy the many benefits of an active lifestyle."
Interest in the scheme follows a report in The British Medical Journal which suggested that “active console games” were able to "significantly increased participants' energy expenditure" compared with more traditional games and consoles.
However, the Department of Health has failed to confirm that the trials will be expanded across the country, with a report in tabloid newspaper The Daily Mail
suggesting that no such plans exist. The paper also quotes a separate report that suggests that playing on the Wii expends only 2 percent more energy than traditional games.