It should come as no shock that there is an obesity crisis. We hear it in the news every now and again, but what's the problem. A few more fat people? It's actually quite a serious issue.
For an individual take a look at this graphic
For the population that's not overweight of obese (congratulations!) there is still a serious issue
What this means is fit or fat, you're affected by obesity, either in your health or your wealth.
This is an outcry I hear you say. I'd agree. There is no mistake that I have cited UK and USA sources above, obesity is a global epidemic - a pandemic. So what are our individual countries doing to fix this for us?
The the UK we have the Change4Life campaign. Eat less, move more! Great. In the USA we have Healthy People and latterly supplemented with Let's Move! In Canada there's of course Active Healthy Kids Canada. Everything's ok now we have these great quasi-government organisations fighting for our health?
Not quite. All of these organisations have a common flaw. They do not adapt, they do not learn, they do not get disbanded if they are ineffective.
First on the block for the chop is Healthy Active Kids Canada.
"Since the formation of the Active Healthy Kids Canada in 1994, according to "Obesity in Canada - Snapshot" published by the Public Health Agency of Canada, the levels of obesity have grown from just over 20% to nearly 25%."Next up Healthy People 2010
"Since the inception of Healthy People 2010 in 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the states in America that have an obesity prevalence of 30% grew from zero states in 2000 to 12 states in 2010".What about Change4Life?
"Since the creation of the Change4Life campaign in 2009, according to the National Health Service commissioned statistics via ONS, the percentage of overweight or obese children had grown from 17% reported in 2009 to 30%"
Why if the obesity problem is recognized and agencies have been set up to combat the problem is it still getting worse? Costing us our health and our wealth? The answer is a lack of knowledge about the population they are trying to help. Technology is becoming increasingly more important in work and leisure for the modern western individual and these agencies are still touting the "go play outside" message for increasing physical activity. All of them have dismissed exergaming as part of the solution.
Exergaming is dismissed because a few studies in Nintendo Wii have failed to produce the illusive 60 minutes of MVPA (Moderate to Vigourous Physical Activity, basically, being out of puff) that most governments recommend. Equally, most people get bored of Wii Sports and go play Mario Kart instead. The lack in understanding of exergaming, and the natural aversion to technology, causes the obesity agencies to make a fatal (that'l be fatal you you, not them) mistake and provide incorrect guidance. So what if exergaming ticked the boxes for sustainability, for MVPA?
Contrary to stereotypical or ignorant belief, exergames can. At least, Gamercize can. If you only ever read one piece of research this decade, make it this one. Exergaming MVPA, sustainability and of course comparison against the dreaded Wii.
So what causes obesity? Ignorance. Or to be blunt - the ignorance of the agencies set up to combat the situation. We know exergaming works, see above, but the agencies deny this. I would rather suggest honest stupidity over a desire to worsen the crisis in order to justify the expansion the respective agencies budgets. Well, maybe I might just hint at that.