Video Game Giant Not Playing Around with Childhood Obesity

One of the most familiar and well-respected names in video games isn’t playing around with a very serious issue impacting the lives of millions of children around the world today.

Konami – celebrated for its groundbreaking works in the nascent video game industry of yesterday – has partnered with
UnitedHealthcare as the company tackles public health for the first time.

Konami is aiming to reduce the epidemic of childhood obesity by offering their DanceDanceRevolution Classroom Edition in schools. As of this writing, three schools – in Florida, Georgia, and Texas – are on board.

DDR Classroom Edition is an interactive video game, also known as an “exergame,” that combines physical activity with energetic music and visuals. The game and associated hardware technology, which was developed by Performance Designed Products, enables up to 48 students to participate simultaneously, using wireless mat controllers that feature 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.

“It’s part of a broader initiative we have to reduce childhood obesity,” says Will Shanley, Director of Public Relations at UnitedHealthcare. “A big portion of that is the idea of ‘exergaming.’ The reality is that kids need to be engaged in fun and interactive ways. It’s important to meet them where they’re at. Kids enjoy playing videogames. If we can have them have fun and get exercise, it’ll build lifelong habits toward fitness. We think this is one important way we can engage kids.”

Studies indicate “exergaming,” which refers to video games such as DDR Classroom Edition that are also a form of exercise, have the potential to reduce the growing obesity epidemic among children and adults.

“DanceDanceRevolution introduced a generation of young people to an innovative and fun approach to physical activity,” says Clara Baum, senior director of strategic marketing and partnerships for Konami. “With the recent launch of our 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.”

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