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Wii Fit under fire for telling healthy kids they are fat

Tue, 01 Jan 2008 ANI
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Sydney, July 19 (ANI): Nintendo's Wii Fit game, an exercise game consisting of activities using the Wii Balance Board, raised anger among experts for telling healthy kids that they are fat.

 

Experts warn that the game, which assesses players' fitness levels based on their body mass index, labelling them underweight, ideal weight, overweight or obese, could cause eating disorders and self-esteem issues.

 

The game, which costs 149.95 dollars, was launched in Australia in May and includes a weight- and motion-sensitive balance board, which players can use for yoga, muscle workouts, aerobic exercises and balance games.

 

As per the findings of Shirley Alexander, staff specialist in childhood and adolescent weight management services at The Children's Hospital at Westmead, the BMI was not even ideal for measuring adult fitness, let alone that of children.

 

To prove the findings of Alexander, Nintendo admitted the BMI calculations were based on adult measurements and might not be accurate for children.

 

"Anyone that's even overweight can actually be fit, [although] the more overweight you are the less likely you are to be fit," The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Professor Alexander as saying.

 

"But with children they have more fatty tissue at different periods of their life and they have a larger body surface area relative to adults. The BMI is still worked out on height and weight but the age of the child has got to be taken into account," she said.

 

The game's defective workings were further exposed when a father reported that his 10-year-old daughter - who weighs 42 kilograms and maintains an active lifestyle - was "devastated" after Wii Fit deemed her to be fat, sparking outrage in Britain recently.

 

The incident escalated when another British girl, an 11 year old weighing 44 kilograms, told her mother she wanted to go on a diet after Wii Fit called her overweight, the BBC reported.

 

"For someone to be told that they're in the unhealthy weight range when they're not, particularly for children and girls, that will have self-esteem and image issues," Professor Alexander said.

 

Nintendo spokeswoman Heather Murphy said Wii Fit was capable of measuring the BMI for people aged between two and 20 but the resulting figures would not be entirely accurate for younger age groups due to varying levels of development, sex and age.

 

"The BMI results will differ depending on an individual's stage of development, so the resulting figures should be used for reference purposes only," Murphy said.

 

"Parents who are concerned that their children will react negatively to one of the four BMI categories should use Wii Fit in such a way that the BMI tracker does not appear on screen," she added. (ANI)

 

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