Impact of cooperative versus competitive exergame play on overweight and obese adolescents' physical, socio-emotional, and cognitive health
Exner, Amanda Leigh.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Georgetown University, 2010.; Includes bibliographical references.; Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format. Overweight and obese youth can benefit significantly from sustainable physical activity interventions resulting in weight loss. Exergames (i.e. video games that require gross motor activity) used as physical activity tools may improve the physical, socio-emotional, and cognitive health of these youth. To contribute to our understanding of the impacts of exergame play on adolescents, this dissertation examined change in weight, self-efficacy, self-esteem, friendship quality, and executive function during an exergame intervention.; Fifty-four low-income 15- to 19-year-old overweight and obese African American adolescents were randomly assigned to competitive exergame, cooperative exergame, or control conditions. All exergame participants were encouraged to play the Nintendo Wii Active game for 30 to 60 minutes per school day in a lunch-time or after-school program. Cooperative exergame participants worked with a peer to expend calories and earn points together, whereas competitive exergame participants competed individually against a peer. Physical and socio-emotional measures were collected at baseline, at approximately 10 weeks, and at approximately 20 weeks. Executive function skills were tested at baseline and at approximately 10 weeks.; Growth curve analysis revealed that cooperative exergame players lost more weight than the control condition did. There was no difference in weight loss between the cooperative and competitive conditions, or between the competitive and control conditions. Participants with higher baseline friendship quality lost more weight than those with lower baseline friendship quality. Both cooperative and competitive exergame play produced beneficial effects for exercise self-efficacy and friendship quality. Youth reported high levels of intrinsic motivation for game play, particularly those in the cooperative condition.; Analysis of variance revealed that youth in the competitive condition who played the exergames just before testing improved in executive function skills more than those in the cooperative and control conditions. Effects were stronger for males than for females. Weight loss during the intervention was also significantly correlated with improvement in executive function skills.; The results suggest that exergames are a digital tool that can promote adolescent health. The findings of this dissertation link important beneficial physical, socio-emotional, and cognitive outcomes to exergame play for at-risk ethnic minority adolescents who face significant health challenges.
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