Tag Archives: Body Test

Wii Fit tells kids to tease fat friends

There was a lot of fuss recently about Wii Fit calling kids “fat”. It’s a claim that was repeated not only in the gaming community but across the mainstream media, too.

The claim is technically false, because the software doesn’t use the word “fat”. It adopts the standard terminology used in conjunction with BMI measurements: underweight, ideal, overweight, and obese. But “fat” makes better headlines, so why let the truth intrude?

My initial reaction was “who cares”, because the weight-tracking aspect of Wii Fit is one of its biggest drawcards. I put it down to parents not paying enough attention to the games their children play.

When I thought about it a bit longer, it became apparent that there really is a problem here.

BMI is not a perfect measurement. It’s a rough guide to your fitness, but it has limitations. It doesn’t know whether your weight is made up of fat or muscle, for instance. And it is basically useless for children, because their physiology is different from an adult’s.

That’s where Wii Fit goes off the rails. One of the first things you’re asked when you register a new Mii is your age – this offers Nintendo a perfect opportunity to either lock young users out of the BMI calculations, or at the very least to explain that the BMI is not necessarily accurate and they should talk to their parents about it.

Instead, children as young as two (yes, two) can have their BMI calculated without any explanation as to its applicability to children. It’s not even clear that the BMI scores displayed are based on the alternative calculations that try to account for the differences in children’s bodies.


But it gets worse. After a couple of weeks playing, the Balance Board avatar popped up one morning and asked me how I thought my fiancée was doing: was she losing or gaining weight? Was her posture better or worse? Notwithstanding Michael Abbott’s warning to be very careful, I jokingly replied that her posture was worse, and was told to tell her what I thought, because — no joke — dogs respond better when they get feedback on their performance.

Yes, Wii Fit told me to tell my fiancée that I thought she was slipping. Let’s apply that to children who use the machine. Wii Fit will not only tell a young girl she’s overweight, it will tell her siblings to tease her about it.



Up and away

I bought Wii Fit last Thursday, so it wasn’t until after work that I was able to fire it up and go through my first Body Test. Obese, it told me. A kick up the arse. I started out with the balance games that I’d seen in pre-launch promotions — soccer, skiing. Then yoga, muscle exercises, aerobics, another go at slalom. Then bed.

Body Test - Day 2

Day 2, and I went through the Body Test again. I’d somehow put on over a kilogram overnight. Disheartening. Wii Fit helpfully advised that your body naturally fluctuates +/- 1kg over the course of the day, so it was advisable to take the test at the same time each day for consistency. That sounded sane enough, so I decided I’d better stick with mornings. If I make Wii Fit part of my wake-up routine, I should be able to do the Body Test at roughly the same time each day. Then I can fit in some of the exercises in the morning or in the evening.

Body Test - Day 3

On Saturday, Day 3, I found I’d put on a touch more, but nothing major. Perhaps there is something to the fluctuation theory. Anyway, on Friday I’d eaten pretty badly: McDonald’s for breakfast, Nando’s chicken and chips for lunch, takeaway vindaloo and samosas for dinner. Plus chocolate. I was actually quite suprised not to have stacked on some weight.

I also knew that if I was going to reach my goal, I’d have to be a lot more disciplined. I was pretty good during the day on Saturday, but a family dinner at a Docklands restaurant meant beer, Coke, a huge chicken parmagiana, and a very rich icecream cone for dessert.

Body Test - Day 4

In the morning, Day 4, I was keen to see the damage. I lost 0.1kg. Not bad! Lesson: if I’m disciplined during the day, I can go out for a big meal and still break even. Good to know.

So that day I tried to eat smaller portions. A hash brown for breakfast, a single slice of pizza for lunch, and Pakistani lamb curry for dinner. I walked around Melbourne for an hour, but that was really my only exercise. I didn’t do my Wii Fit workout because I’d been playing Super Mario Galaxy and didn’t want to have to swap discs.

Body Test - Day 5

Today, Day 5, I got a bit of a surprise. I dropped 2.3kg!

BMI Graph - Day 5 Weight Graph - Day 5

The ball is rolling; let’s see if I can keep the momentum up.

Score to beat: BMI 33.8, 110.8kg.

Weighing in

The moment of truth. My first Body Test.

I hadn’t weighted myself since I was, what — fifteen? sixteen? Back then I was 178cm and 75kg or thereabouts. How would I do now?

Body Test - Day 1

112kg, with a BMI of 34.22.


Obviously, I have some work to do. Ideally, I want to be down to the “normal” range, which means my long-term target weight is 80kg. I want to get there in time for my wedding next year, so I’ve got ten months to lose 32kg. Let’s make it nine months, to make sure I’m ready in time to fit my suit. That’s a target of just over 10kg every three months.

The Wii tells me I’m going to need to lose 1.6kg each fortnight, which is slightly more than the 1.4kg it recommends. I’m going to stick with my own target for now; see how I go.

The silver lining is that I appear to carry my weight fairly evenly, though I need to stand forward on my feet.