Web-Based Video Game Can Help Increase Weight Loss Among Users

First Posted: Feb 18, 2014 11:17 PM EST

Newer video games in recent years, such as Xbox Kinect Sports and Wii Fit have allowed users to enjoy the luxury of video games while working in a bit of exercise to avoid being completely sedentary. A new study has shown a "gaming site" can also help out the cause.

The social gaming site in question is called It is a web-based commercial weight loss program that combines financial incentives with social influence. Statistics have shown that significant weight losses have occurred among participants. Researchers from The Miriam Hospital in Rhode Island documented their findings in JMIR Serious Games.

Although DietBet isn't an actual video game, it is still considered an online game where players can join a competition to lose weight and bet money on themselves. It can probably be best compared to PokerStars, which is an online-based forum where one can join a poker game and bet money on their poker hands. On DietBet, the participants (or "players") have four weeks to lose four percent of their starting weight. Those who accomplish this goal are considered a winner, and if there are multiple winners, they split the pool of money that was collected at the beginning.

It sounds pretty simple, but it's actually more regulated then you would think. At the end of each four-week period, players must submit photo-based evidence of their weigh-ins to DietBet "referees" at the start and conclusion of each weight loss game. You enter the game virtually, which gives the process a video-game-type connotation, but you're actually physically participating in an activity.

Tricia Leahey, Ph.D., is the lead researcher at The Miriam Hospital Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center and she sought to find out more information regarding participants on DietBet. The study examined almost 40,000 participants over the course of seven months, in which winners lost an average of nearly 5% of their initial body weight and collected an average of almost $60 after the four weeks. People were shown to share their accomplishments on Facebook, which helped garner more participation, and many of the players began interacting with one another, further encouraging weight loss.

With the positive results shown by this study, which is documented in this EurekAlert! article, it seems as if technology as a whole (video games, computer games, social websites, etc.) are beginning to lead to more active lifestyles.

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