Wii Fit says you're overweight and that's bad?

Wii Fit is under attack by obesity groups. Is it warranted?

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
3 min read

Is it just me or is it time for people to relax?

A recent story from Mail Online details obesity experts' issues with Nintendo's latest blockbuster, Wii Fit. According to the story, a ten-year-old girl was playing the game and after telling it how old she was and what her height is, it measured her weight and told her that she's overweight.

In a fit of rage, obesity experts condemned the title claiming it could harm a child's self-image and called on Nintendo to include a warning in the game that said it's not suitable for children.

"She is solidly built but not fat," the girl's father told reporters. "She was devastated to be called fat and we had to work hard to convince her she isn't."

Now, I understand that a child's self-image is an extremely important issue in today's world and there are a number of cases where weight can have a lasting impact on the child's life. But let's also not forget that the instruction manual on Wii Fit does say that BMI calculations may not be accurate for individuals aged 2 to 20 and even those that are more muscular will probably not see the real measurement of how over- or under-weight they are.

But for the rest of us, I can't help but say that while the truth may be difficult, part of the value of Wii Fit rests in its attempt to be honest with the gamer and help that person achieve a more healthy lifestyle.

Obesity is, without a doubt, one of the most dangerous problems in the world. And while my heart goes out to those who simply cannot control their weight, I don't think a video game should be condemned for doing what it's supposed to do: evaluate your physical health and try to improve it.

Sadly, I think the world is becoming a bit too sensitive. Should a game tell a ten-year-old that she's fat? No. And surely there are other ways to tell those that are overweight that they don't fit within the more moderate BMI range. But in the end, the truth is the truth and Wii Fit is certainly not telling the world how much you weigh and how under- or overweight you are.

How is the Wii Fit calculator any different than a calculation that's done at the gym by your local trainer? I would argue that it's even worse: if someone is overweight and has issues with being told that, can you imagine the issues they must have when another person knows it? At least on Wii Fit it can be password-protected and kept between the person and the game, right?

This is not to say that obesity issues don't matter -- they absolutely do and privacy should be a major concern -- but I just don't see why we should indict Wii Fit because it informs people that they are not as healthy as they could be. Isn't that a good thing?

I think we've become too sensitive. When a video game tells me that I'm overweight, I simply don't see the problem in that if it's a game that's designed to make me healthier. And let's also not forget that it's not judging those that are overweight and is actually doing what it can to help us.

Wii Fit is not to blame and should not be blamed for telling someone that it's overweight. And if you ask me, I think we should all lighten up a bit.