UnitedHealthcare Collaborates with Konami and Zamzee on Innovative Health Programs that Help Reduce Childhood Obesity

January 09, 2014
  • "Exergame" DanceDanceRevolution Classroom Edition from Konami to be introduced at a California school, in addition to existing programs in Florida, Georgia and Texas
  • Collaboration with Zamzee to test the impact of wearable activity meters that monitor health and activity levels of students in Florida, Georgia and Texas
  • UnitedHealthcare showcases these health programs and others at the 2014 International CES

UnitedHealthcare today announced at the 2014 International CES collaborations with Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc., and Zamzee to help reduce childhood obesity through school-based health programs. Both initiatives incorporate exergaming, which refers to video games that are also a form of exercise.

The collaboration with Konami and California Endowment, which provides grants to community-based organizations throughout California, will bring DanceDanceRevolution (DDR) Classroom Edition this year to a Southern California school. DDR Classroom Edition is the latest iteration of the wildly popular dance game that has shown to encourage physical activity among adults and children.

The participating school will use the game to track its impact on students' health, well-being and exercise habits. Last year, Konami and UnitedHealthcare brought DDR Classroom Edition to schools in Longwood, Fla.; Gainesville, Ga.; and Fresno, Texas.

The second program will evaluate the impact of Zamzee as part of a childhood obesity intervention program. Participating students will receive Zamzee activity meters, a three-axis accelerometer that can be clipped to a child's shoe or clothing and can measure both the time and intensity of the physical activity. Students who use the activity meters can earn "Pointz" that can be redeemed for prizes on the Zamzee motivational website.

Approximately 60 students and their families in Florida, Georgia and Texas will receive the meters as part of a broader evidence-based childhood obesity intervention and wellness program called JOIN for ME®, which helps children and their parents lose weight and reduce the risk of many health issues. The Zamzee pilot program will analyze what impact the activity meters have on the participating students, as compared to the broader student population enrolled in JOIN for ME.

These programs build on UnitedHealthcare's deep expertise in developing practical solutions to control childhood obesity. These latest collaborations are incorporated into school-based wellness initiatives organized by UnitedHealthcare and United Health Foundation in partnership with school systems nationwide.

"The Konami and Zamzee programs teach kids that physical activity can be fun and enjoyable, while fostering the development of healthy attitudes and habits that can last a lifetime," said Richard Migliori, M.D., executive vice president and chief of medical affairs, UnitedHealth Group. "These innovative collaborations that engage young people in improving their health are important steps toward reducing childhood obesity in our country."

Studies indicate "exergaming" has the potential to reduce the growing obesity epidemic among children and adults. A recent study by George Washington University found exergames "spurred students to move enough to meet the recommended intensity criteria for vigorous activity" and that these games are "a useful alternative to traditional physical education."

DDR Classroom Edition is an interactive video game that combines physical activity with energetic music and visuals. The game and associated hardware technology, developed by Performance Designed Products, enables dozens of students to participate simultaneously, using wireless mat controllers featuring a smart card reader that tracks each student's individual progress. While students move to the beat, teachers receive vital information about their students' health, including steps, body mass index (BMI) and caloric burn rate.

"DanceDanceRevolution introduced a generation of young people to an innovative and fun approach to physical activity," said Clara Baum, senior director of strategic marketing and partnerships, Konami Digital Entertainment. "With DanceDanceRevolution Classroom Edition and Konami's collaboration with UnitedHealthcare, we see the healthy lifestyle benefits of expanding the active video games, or 'exergaming' platform, and making this fun, physical activity system available to as many people as possible."

Zamzee is a digital health tool proven to get kids and their families moving more. A study conducted by HopeLab, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, showed that middle-school children using Zamzee boosted their physical activity levels by 59 percent compared to a control group. The study also showed positive impacts on LDL cholesterol and glycated hemoglobin, key biomarkers for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The Zamzee program combines a 3-D accelerometer that measures physical activity with a website that motivates kids to move more. It is used in clinical programs, schools and other group settings to help reverse the effects of sedentary behavior and improve health. 

"Zamzee has proved to be an effective tool in motivating, measuring and managing physical activity, especially in group settings," said Lance Henderson, CEO of Zamzee.  "Through this collaboration we are reaching more young people and helping them get and stay active."

In addition to showcasing Zamzee and DDR Classroom Edition, UnitedHealthcare's 3,000-square-foot exhibitor booth (#25515) at CES demonstrates how the health care company's health benefits, services and technologies are simplifying the consumer health care experience by making helpful, practical information more accessible and affordable through personal technology devices such as smartphones, video game consoles and television programming.

"Each year at CES we listen to and connect with our customers. In response, we are pushing deeper into the digital and online space to deliver integrated offerings when, where, and how our customers want to be reached," said Dr. Migliori. "The technology and innovative collaborations we are showcasing in our booth this year make it easier and more fun for people to become active participants in their own health, empowering them to live healthier lives."

For more on UnitedHealthcare presence at CES as well as the company's booth, fitness challenges and speaking engagements, visit www.ceshealth.com or follow @CESHealth on Twitter.

About DanceDanceRevolution
DanceDanceRevolution is the definitive music and motion game that combines fun, fitness, competition, dance and music. Since it was first introduced to North American video game consoles in 2001, DanceDanceRevolution has received a tremendous amount of exposure for its health benefits. A major part of the new trend in gaming that takes players off of the couch and away from the joystick; DanceDanceRevolution has recently been introduced as part of the physical fitness curriculum in multiple school districts in the United States. Additionally, it has been a part of numerous research studies on childhood obesity.

For more information, please visit: www.ddrclassroomedition.com.

About Konami Group
Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. is a leading developer, publisher and manufacturer of electronic entertainment properties. Konami's titles include the popular franchises METAL GEAR SOLID, Silent Hill, DanceDanceRevolution and Castlevania, among other top sellers. The latest information about Konami can be found on the Web at www.konami.com. KONAMI CORPORATION is a publicly traded company based in Tokyo, Japan with subsidiary offices, Konami Digital Entertainment Co., Ltd. in Tokyo, Japan, Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. in the United States and Konami Digital Entertainment B.V. in Windsor, UK. KONAMI CORPORATION is traded in the United States on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol KNM. Details of the products published by Konami can be found at http://www.konami.com.

About Zamzee
Zamzee is a social enterprise on a mission to make it easier for tweens and families to be more physically active. The Zamzee meter and motivational website is the result of several years of research and design based on feedback from kids and families. The Zamzee meter is sold for $29.95; access to the Zamzee website is free of charge. Zamzee was established in 2010 by HopeLab, a nonprofit research organization that uses the power and appeal of technology to improve the health of kids. Initial research and development of Zamzee was conducted by HopeLab, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. For more information, please visit http://www.zamzee.com.

About UnitedHealthcare
UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with 780,000 physicians and care professionals and 5,900 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. UnitedHealthcare serves more than 40 million people in health benefits and is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company.

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