Anthem Blue Cross and Boys & Girls Club of Camarillo Collaborate to Help Kids Get Active through “Exergaming”
Woodland Hills, CA - May 16, 2011— According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 30 percent of California’s children and adolescents are overweight or obese, and those numbers are expected to grow exponentially unless dramatic action is taken to address and reverse the trend.
In an effort to help improve child health and physical well-being, Anthem Blue Cross and the Boys & Girls Club of Camarillo have joined forces to help kids increase their fitness levels through exergaming – playing interactive video games that incorporate exercise in a way that promotes inclusion and appeals to all levels of skill and body types.
This cool new program enables Boys & Girls Club members to put down the remote, put themselves in the game and take part in – boxing, bowling, dancing and playing everything from soccer to volleyball to table tennis, through the popular gaming system Kinect® for Xbox 360® from Microsoft®.
“This exciting initiative builds on the terrific relationship we’ve established with the leadership of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Camarillo in helping to improve the well-being of their club members while also creating successful models to promote healthier lifestyles for children and families in our community and across California,” says Pam Kehaly, president of Anthem Blue Cross.
Recent studies, such as one published in March 2011 by the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, show that exergames, like those played through Kinect, get kids up and moving – burning energy at levels comparable to the moderate to vigorous exercises recommended to keep children fit and active.
What’s more, the study demonstrated that children with higher BMIs – which included those who were either overweight or at risk of becoming overweight – enjoyed exergames more than children of normal weight, though all of them expended similar amounts of energy . Additionally, a national survey from the Pew Internet & American Life Project indicates that 97 percent of America’s youth play video games, illustrating just how ingrained video games have become in youth culture. And while exergaming is relatively new, market analysts and industry experts agree that exergaming is a growing trend, helping to move people of all ages from being sedentary to being more active.
The new program will break club members into age groups in order to study the effect of regular exergaming in helping to improve physical activity levels. Participants will be surveyed and assessed for their weight, height, BMI, and waist circumference, as well as their physical activity and nutrition habits, before and after the program, which is expected to run for four months.
“We will test the idea that having these interactive games available as a form of exercise will be a way to engage the 10 percent of our members that are overweight or obese who have shied away from traditional sports, as well as the other 90 percent who are consistently active but also eager to compete and excel in new forms of sport,” says Bill Locker, chief executive officer of the Boys & Girls Club of Camarillo.
The program also will feature a motivational and educational campaign to inspire youth to get outdoors and take up group and individual activity. Posters will encourage kids about the importance of good nutrition and the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables. Parent involvement is encouraged and special score cards will enable families to track progress and even share information with their pediatricians and other health care providers. Prizes will be offered by the Boys & Girls Club for various team and individual competitions and include gift cards to family restaurants, movie tickets and outdoor activities.
“This is a remarkable opportunity for Anthem Blue Cross to collaborate with the Boys & Girls Club to test what works in engaging kids to be more active, eat right and reward positive behaviors, in a spirit and context where everybody wins,” says Harvinder Sareen, Ph.D., director of clinical programs with Anthem Blue Cross. “If there is a way to capture what new technology does best in helping us to improve health and wellness, kids will show us how, as they are the leaders of tomorrow.”
Previously, the Anthem Blue Cross Foundation, the non-profit philanthropic arm of Anthem Blue Cross, provided the Boys & Girls Club of Camarillo with grants of $95,000 and $50,000, in 2009 and 2010 respectively, to support the nationally recognized Triple Play Healthy Habits program, with more than 1,500 at-large youth benefiting from these two grants.
Triple Play’s proven health and wellness program encourages Boys & Girls Club members nationwide to eat healthier, become more physically active, and increase their ability to engage in healthy relationships. The program is available to nearly 4,000 Boys & Girls Clubs serving some four million children and teens through Club membership and community outreach. For more information about the Boys & Girls Club, visit www.bgca.org.
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