“You are fat,” the Wii Fit game stated matter-of-factly, as the world crumbled around a 10-year-old British girl, who had been excitedly standing on the game’s Balance Board peripheral until the heart-breaking pronouncement.
However, her father hasn’t come to terms with the game’s assessment of her stepdaughter’s body weight and refused to accept it. “She is a perfectly healthy, 4ft 9in tall 10-year-old who swims, dances and weighs only six stone,” the miffed father told the Daily Mail. Although he agreed to his stepdaughter being sturdily built, he didn’t accept that she was “fat.”
The game is under considerable fire from British obesity experts, who have taken offense to the game’s affronting terminology. They also doubt its ability to correctly determine a child’s Body Mass Index which is quite dynamic compared to that of an adult – therefore difficult to assess with any precision. The Wii Fit game uses the Balance Board supplied with the game to determine a person’s BMI. The person is supposed to stand on the board and enter some generic info about his/her body like height and weight.
Tim Fry of Britain’s National Obesity Forum demanded that the game be kept at a safe distance from children. Nintendo – perhaps as pugnacious as the straightforward game – has declined to issue a warning of any kind with the game.
Nintendo has, however, offered the following statement:
“Nintendo would like to apologise to any customers offended by the in-game terminology used to classify a player’s current BMI status, as part of the BMI measurement system integrated into Wii Fit.
The BMI classifications featured within Wii Fit are universal, standard measurements widely used within the medical and fitness profession. We have used BMI and its associated terminology as the in-game measurement in Wii Fit as it is a widely recognised indicator of a healthy weight range since it measures a player’s weight, scaled to their height.
As such it is the best available generic measurement that can assess a player’s progress whilst using Wii Fit. The different classifications applied in Wii Fit are those used officially with BMI.
As stated in the Wii Fit manual, BMI is essentially a measure of body fat, based on an adult height and weight. Wii Fit is still capable of measuring the BMI for people aged between 2 and 20 BUT the resulting figures may not be entirely accurate for younger age groups due to varying levels of development.
The BMI results will differ depending on an individual’s stage of development. People with more muscle mass than normal will also have a higher BMI rating due to the heavy weight of muscle tissue, so the resulting figures should be used for reference purposes only.
We appreciate that some players might want to keep their in-game assessment details private. Users playing Wii Fit have the option to hide their on screen weight so it will not be seen when playing in a group environment. In addition, if users prefer to play Wii Fit in a group environment, but do not wish their BMI rating to be viewed, they can choose to play the Wii Fit activities as a GUEST without having to participate in the weighing and BMI measuring process.”