Nintendo furthers body image issues?

There’s this article on Yahoo!: Wii Fit or Wii Fat?

So the game determines your health by calculating your BMI from your height and weight (and another stat?). But, “BMI is far from perfect but with children it simply should not be used. A child’s BMI can change every month and it is perfectly possible for a child to be stocky, yet still very fit.” (Tam Fry)

Well you learn something new every day.

I still don’t understand why Nintendo couldn’t put something on the box or in the box stating that. I mean, I didn’t know it. Teen magazines have BMI articles in issues quite often, and I know 12- or 13-year-olds read them, so I had no idea that younger people shouldn’t use them. I thought it was perfectly acceptable. (I’m not blaming teen mags. I’m just saying, that’s where I got my info from, and I didn’t know it’s not meant for kids.)

Reposting article here because I know some Yahoo articles disappear after a while.

Wii Fit or Wii Fat?

Nintendo’s exergame wrongly labels kids overweight, claim obesity experts.

By Ben Silverman

When a 10 year-old girl from the South-East of Britain stepped on the scale of Nintendo’s new game Wii Fit, she expected to get the blood pumping with some fun, casual exercising.

Instead, the game’s software told her she was fat. Understandably, her father wasn’t happy.

“She is a perfectly healthy, 4ft 9in tall 10-year-old who swims, dances and weighs only six stone (84 lbs). She is solidly built but not fat. She was devastated to be called fat and we had to work hard to convince her she isn’t.”

Obesity experts in the U.K. are working equally hard taking Nintendo to task for failing to warn parents that Wii Fit isn’t appropriate for younger kids. At the center of the debate is the game’s use of the Body Mass Index (BMI) as a means of judging the health of its players. After standing on the game’s innovative Balance Board peripheral and entering basic information like height and weight, the game doles out an overall BMI number as well as a label, such as “underweight,” “ideal,” or in some cases, “fat.” While the somewhat callous system is reasonably accurate in determining the BMI of adults, a child’s BMI can literally change from day to day. Experts have deemed its use in Wii Fit misleading.

“I’m absolutely aghast that children are being told they are fat,” said Tam Fry of the National Obesity Forum. “BMI is far from perfect but with children it simply should not be used. A child’s BMI can change every month and it is perfectly possible for a child to be stocky, yet still very fit.”

Nintendo apologized for the terminology used to describe players, but stopped short of actually adding a warning to the game.

“Wii Fit is still capable of measuring the BMI for people aged between two and 20 but the resulting figures may not be entirely accurate for younger age groups due to varying levels of development,” the company said through a spokesman.

Nintendo’s exergame is already a bona fide international hit, selling out quickly in both Japan and Europe. The game releases in North America on May 19.

2 thoughts on “Nintendo furthers body image issues?

  1. Wow…

    I already think the BMI thing isn’t accurate, especially since muscle weighs more than fat. A really muscular person could be considered overweight by it, and someone with lots of fat could weigh the same amount. It’s easy to tell who’s more fit just by looking at them. :/

  2. Yeah, I think for a lot of cases BMI wouldn’t work. There was this one guy that I saw in a show. He was overweight according to the BMI, but he could run a triathlon, he ran and biked everyday, and swam regularly, so other than his BMI number he was perfectly healthy. Although he did look overweight, not muscular at all.

    But in general, I think BMI is a good, quick and dirty way to determine if you should perhaps get help or start changing your lifestyle.

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