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Monday, March 21, 2016

Shigeru Miyamoto's Designs Promote Eating Disorders

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - The design of Wii Fit is dangerous to people's health.

Eating disorders and body image perceptions are huge problems in the United States. The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders gives a 2011 source that up to 30 million Americans have an eating disorder, which is probably under-reported. Very big problem.

Shigeru Miyamoto is not helping that issue. In fact, he encouraged it. Normally, game designers and eating disorders aren't a connected thing. But Shigeru Miyamoto is no ordinary game designer. He was behind Nintendo's Wii Fit, a game designed to get you and your family to weigh yourself. Every single day. Here's a quote of Miyamoto's basic philosophy regarding Wii Fit's vision:
But I’m sure it would be fun for people to measure their weight in the living room with the whole family, take data every day and check the graphs, then maybe poke fun at Dad who’s put on a little weight, or congratulate Mom on her diet.” 
Shigeru Miyamoto holding up a Wii Balance Board E3 2007 Fit
Shigeru Miyamoto wants this Wii Balance Board to ruin your life.

Miyamoto believed it would be fun to measure your weight every day on the Wii Balance Board. And hey, that does sound kind of fun if you don't think about what you're actually doing. Even Miyamoto has some self-awareness and thinks it might be extreme, but he goes ahead anyway:
“I know this may sound a bit extreme, but measuring your weight is fun, and there are ways to keep fit when thinking along those lines."

Here's what a developer, Takao Sawano, described as Miyamoto's instructions:
The only thing Miyamoto-san had told us was that he wanted to make a game that would allow users to weigh themselves on a daily basis, so that’s really all we could do at the time.” 
Takeshi Nagareda, also on the Wii Fit project, had this to say:
“The Entertainment Analysis & Development Division had originally given us two demands. The first was that the Wii Board had to be able to measure the daily changes in a person’s weight. If a person drank some juice and gained 200g, the Wii Board needed to be accurate enough to be able to detect that change. The other demand was that it had to be able to detect the shift in a person’s balance.”
So, why am I bringing up all of these quotes?

Because it shows that Wii Fit was made around the premise that you and others around you would weigh yourselves every day. And the Wii Balance Board would pick up on every slight fluctuation, and then “poke fun at Dad”, because “measuring your weight is fun” and every “daily change” needed to be represented.

Can you imagine what a nightmare this design philosophy would be with someone who does have body image problems? Research published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior suggests that folks who weighed themselves every day or frequently, especially females, had lower self-esteem, more concerns over their weight, had less satisfaction over their body, were more depressed, and were at greater propensity to develop an eating disorder. More research suggests that societal pressure and social contact that constantly encourage weight loss are correlated to the presence or development of eating disorders such as anorexia.

Reggie Fils-Aime Nintendo E3 2007 Wii Fit light heavy clothing
Shigeru Miyamoto, controlling the Wiimote to lie about Reggie's clothing (“Light” instead of “Heavy”) to skew the results to make Reggie have body image issues.

Many in the health community advise against weighing yourself every day. If you Google search, you might find that some academic dudes are saying you SHOULD weigh yourself every day. That's if you don't already have an eating disorder. You'll probably go and develop one if you keep that stuff up, though.

Another problem with Wii Fit: They give you results in Body Mass Index (BMI), which is not a very good way to measure things. You won't find nutritionists and whatever saying to put much attention in BMI, especially not as the only factor. Wii Fit ONLY gives results in terms of BMI and weight, making it an inaccurate and inadequate tool for actual health maintenance.

Wii Fit Plus Body Mass Index website description
Screenshot from the Wii Fit Plus website. It's a remake of Wii Fit, so it's the same thing for our purposes.

Wii Fit doesn't seem to care about this, or actually thinks that BMI is useful enough to be your sole statistic to change your life around.

Let's review: Shigeru Miyamoto designed Wii Fit around having you and your family weigh yourselves daily. Obsessively. Wii Fit Plus was made in 2009 because people gave up on this idea, so don't think Miyamoto didn't keep trying to get people to continue obsessively weighing themselves. Weighing yourself all the time has no benefits, and is correlated with nasty things like eating disorders and depression. It's actually a symptom of anorexia! The social aspect of it also generates more pressure to the users, and exposes them to a higher risk of developing body image issues. BMI being a flawed measurement that may give false results may also develop or perhaps justify body image issues people may have.

“But I AM fat! Wii Fit told me!”

If you are going to make a videogame for health, then have actual people who work in the field to be part of the development team from the beginning. Don't have Shigeru Miyamoto continually pressing the one idea of “people need to weigh themselves every day” to a team of people who also have no experience in the field, and then market it as a health product. That's not only deceptive, but incredibly dangerous. It's also a disservice.

Ludwig believes that Shigeru Miyamoto is responsible for a lot of bad things. See the related post list below for just a few of them.

Shigeru Miyamoto caused Paper Mario characters to die.
Shigeru Miyamoto is a hypocrite to keep F-Zero dead.
Shigeru Miyamoto is a misogynist.
Shigeru Miyamoto was responsible for the depression of the developers of Paper Mario: Sticker Star.
Shigeru Miyamoto blatantly lied about the existence of a 3DS hardware revision.
Shigeru Miyamoto wanted Splatoon to have less content, and still can't think of a reason why people would want a new F-Zero.
Shigeru Miyamoto claimed he was Bowser Jr's mother, and lied about the Royal Koopa Family.
Shigeru Miyamoto endangered traffic with his bicyclist ways.
Years later, Ludwig is trying to lose weight by playing Ring Fit Adventure to go from a healthy weight to a less healthy one.


  1. I'm working on gaining weight because of how underweight I am. The nutritionist told me how the eating during my day should go and today I weighed myself and I am still under 100 pounds. Thanks for this article. I know now not to stress myself with weighing myself each day.

    1. Please, please do not weigh yourself every day. It will destroy your mind.

      ...I personally feel the pressure to (not because of Wii Fit, though if I did play Wii Fit it would DEFINITELY be enabling that fixation) and probably the only reason I don't is because I prefer to weigh myself nude, and I'm only naked post-shower.

      The scale is also in someone else's room so I can't always just walk naked in there. That's really by design.

      Your weight can fluctuate on a daily basis, and that's normal. If you obsess over every pound difference you will go crazy. That craziness is what Wii Fit wants in your head, according to Miyamoto's design. Presumably because you'll keep playing it day after day instead of leaving it on the shelf.

      Miyamoto cares a lot more about you being addicted to his games than to your health.

  2. I never really weigh myself anyway. My weight just goes up a little and then goes back to what it was. High metabolism.

    I never bought nor tried Wii Fit. :p

    1. Hey, this article isn't sayin' don't weigh yourself at all. Having a general idea of where you're at is good to know.

      Wii Fit wasn't worth the money, especially since the price was raised 'cause of the totally underutilised Wii Balance Board.


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