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Want your kid to lose weight? Make ‘em play video games!

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Just Dance 3

For years, video games have been pointed to as a contributing cause of childhood obesity. Now, a group of Canadian researchers are saying today's crop of titles could actually help solve the growing problem.

The Bloorview Research Institute, in combing through 18 different research reports conducted between 1998 and 2010, found that while the amount of exercise varied from game to game, most children who play video games got the same amount of exercise as they would from a brisk walk.

If you're really hoping your kids will drop a few pounds, then you probably want to steer away from games like Modern Warfare or Harry Potter, of course. It's motion-based games that help shed the pounds.

[ Photos: Great games for weight loss ]

And while things like Wii Bowling or any Tennis title are fun, they're not as effective as games that emphasize upper and lower body actions: Specifically, dance games.

Dance, Dance Revolution and Dance Central are good examples of games that burn the most calories.

"Based on the finding of our study, energy expenditure was elevated to a moderate to vigorous intensity level for all the activities evaluated," said one report Bloorview studies. "There was a fourfold to eight-fold increase in energy expenditure above rest for the various forms of gaming. Exer-gaming compared favourably with walking on a treadmill at three miles per hour, with four out of the six activities resulting in higher energy expenditure."

Of course, playing any video game still doesn't replace the benefits of running around and playing outside. Nine innings of baseball will beat out a video game any day of the week.

But as the digital lifestyle becomes more and more a part of kids' DNA, the shift towards more active gaming is a beacon of hope for parents — and could make them feel better about leaving a game under the tree this year.

"Screen time is highly valued by kids and if we can replace some of their passive screen time with active screen time using active video games, then that will be a step in the right direction," said Elaine Biddiss, one of the authors of the Bloorview report.

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