UnitedHealthcare is launching a national initiative featuring Hasbro's NERF products this holiday season to encourage young people to become more active through "exergaming." More than 1,500 Boys & Girls Club members across the country will receive NERF ENERGY Game Kits, a limited-release game that tracks physical activity and rewards kids for being active.
Children are able to pick their own method of being active with the NERF ENERGY Game Kits, which include an activity tracker (NERF ENERGY Game Band), a soccer ball (NERF PRO FOAM soccer ball) and a mobile game (NERF ENERGY RUSH). As children participate in physical activity, they earn "energy points" that are tracked by the activity band, and these points turn into screen time to play the mobile game on a smartphone or tablet. The Nerf Energy RUSH mobile game is an "endless runner" game that requires players to turn, jump and avoid obstacles to complete courses and earn power-ups to continue playing.
As part of the initiative, UnitedHealthcare will visit nearly a dozen Boys & Girls Clubs across the country to demonstrate how to use the NERF ENERGY Game Kits throughout the holiday season, a time when children tend to be more sedentary. UnitedHealthcare will donate more than 1,500 NERF ENERGY Game Kits to Boys & Girls Clubs in Arizona, California, Kansas, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nevada, Ohio, Texas and Washington.
The donations are part of a national rollout of the game to schools and youth organizations. Throughout 2017, UnitedHealthcare will deliver a total of 10,000 NERF ENERGY Game Kits to elementary schools and community organizations across the country, enabling children ages six to 12 to receive the kits at no cost.
"This generous donation from our partners at UnitedHealthcare is a wonderful complement to our Healthy Lifestyles programming that emphasizes healthy living, good nutrition and regular physical activity," said Penney Ainsworth, president/CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Mississippi, one of the first clubs to receive the kits. "By using this new game, we will help young people in our community develop healthy habits and learn that exercise can be fun."
Nationwide, approximately 17 percent of children and adolescents ages two to 19 years are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and nearly 30 percent of adults are obese, according to United Health Foundation's America's Health Rankings® Annual Report. During the holiday season, Americans of all ages tend to gain weight, which may contribute to obesity later in life, according to a report by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
"The NERF ENERGY game kits will help motivate children to move more in a fun and interactive way, especially during the holiday season when it's often a challenge to stay active and fit," said Sam Ho, M.D., chief medical officer of UnitedHealthcare. "We are grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with Hasbro and many Boys & Girls Clubs across the country to help reduce childhood obesity and use technology to improve the health of all Americans."
Studies indicate that "exergaming" has the potential to reduce the growing obesity epidemic among children and adults. A 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."