Many gamers, both casual and hardcore, have been getting into Nintendo's Wii Fit over the holiday season in an effort to fight the Christmas flab. But does it really work?

Will Nintendo's Wii Fit actually help people to get into shape and then stay in shape? Or will it be seen as this year's 'fad' in a few years time, something that ends up in that messy cupboard under the stairs alongside the Dreamcast and the original Xbox.

What They Play ('the parents guide to video games') reports that a research project is under way at the University of Mississippi to ascertain the effectiveness of Nintendo's latest wonder-toy.

Families being monitored

The research is based on regular monitoring of eight families, all of whom were (luckily) provided with Wii Fit and the Wii Balance Board last autumn. Not for them the indignity of having to buy one at an inflated cost from an eBay scalper this Christmas just gone!

The study is set to run for six months, so expect to see some concrete scientific results which will tell us more about the practical effectiveness of Nintendo's keep fit toy.

"Obesity has become an epidemic in the United States, and one of the reasons is the adults and children are getting less physical activity," said researcher Scott Owens.

"There has been an upswing in sales of whole body movement video games over the past few years. This potentially could help family fitness, so we are looking at the research aspect to see if family fitness improves after purchasing one of these whole body movement game consoles."