To be included, studies needed to have a subjective or objective measure of time spent using active video games and a measure of at least one relevant health or behaviour indicator. Relevant indicators were selected in advance by the reviewers and prioritised based on group consensus. Published, peer-reviewed articles in English or French were eligible provided that the mean age of study participants was younger than 18 years. Studies were excluded if they evaluated only passive video games or if there was risk of a confounding intervention (such as diet modification).
The included studies were conducted across the world (Canada, USA, China, Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, England and Scotland), with most taking place in the USA. Studies included both boys and girls (where stated). A variety of study designs were used; about a third were randomised controlled trials (RCTs). A variety of games were used including those involving dancing (particularly 'Dance Dance Revolution') and sports games played on the Nintendo Wii. Studies assessed the effects of active video games on physical activity and energy expenditure, adherence and appeal of video games, opportunity cost, adiposity, cardio-metabolic health indicators, energy intake and learning and rehabilitation.
Two reviewers were involved in the selection of studies for the review, with any discrepancies resolved by consensus.