The West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency has recruited 85 kids to participate in an at-home study using the videogame [i]Dance Dance Revolution[/i] to increase activity.
PEIA, which covers 215,000 public employees, teachers and their dependents, believes it is the first insurance provider to use the game to cut costs. Konami Digital Entertainment America, which distributes the Japanese game in the United States, knows of no other state or insurance agency using the game for its health benefits.
“Today’s kids are tomorrow’s members,” said Nidia Henderson, PEIA health promotions manager. “Obesity claims last year cost us $77 million. We have to curtail those costs.”
PEIA is providing a game console, dance pad and software for the six-month, $60,000 Games for Health study. West Virginia University is providing the medical screenings and tracking results.
The students, all children of PEIA-covered employees, are required to meet with researchers, play the game for a prescribed amount of time, wear a pedometer and maintain a log. They get to keep the game software and pad.
So far, about a dozen kids have started playing the game. They will be re-evaluated after 12 weeks and again 12 weeks later.
One participant has reported that after a change in diet and playing [i]DDR[/i] for two weeks has lost a total of 20 pounds.