Is Wii Worthy of American Heart Association Accolade?

Dr. Richard Besser questions whether "exergaming" deserves heart-healthy status.

ByABC News
May 17, 2010, 12:00 AM

May 17, 2010— -- For years, the American Heart Association Healthy Check logo has appeared on packaging in the grocery store -- and soon the AHA's name will appear on the Nintendo Wii video game system.

ABC News Senior Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser sat down with Dr. Clyde Yancy, president of the American Heart Association, to ask about the real science behind the health benefits of "active" video games like the Wii, and whether so-called "exergaming" deserves the AHA's stamp of approval, despite research that has linked time playing video games with obesity.

"We can ignore the audience that is engaged with gaming -- a huge audience -- or we can find different ways of engaging that audience," Yancy said. "Certainly there are games within the Nintendo portfolio that are more sedentary, but to their credit they've pioneered physically active gaming."

Still, there are many exercise-linked products -- baseballs, basketballs and other sports equipment included -- that don't have the AHA's logo. The reason, Yancy told Besser, is that the Heart Association's "corporate relationship policy" means that there is a "very deliberate process that must be considered" when determining who gets the AHA's endorsement. Plus, there is no denying the growing popularity of these video games.

"We have to engage consumers and citizens and the public where they are," Yancy said. "The burden of heart disease and stroke is too much."