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Can an App Help Reduce Childhood Obesity? Anthem Blue Cross Launches Pilot to Find Out

June 28, 2016

Health Plan Partners with San Benito Medical Associates to Conduct Study


In an effort to reduce childhood obesity and promote healthy behaviors for the entire family, Anthem Blue Cross and San Benito Medical Associates have launched a pilot program with Kurbo Health to provide expert coaching and a smartphone app to young members and their families.


Pediatric members who exceed the 85th percentile for Body Mass Index are offered an innovative new program for 90 days of instruction and nutrition tracking at no additional cost to participating families. Anthem expects it will take at least a year to have a large enough sample size to determine whether the intervention is successful.


“Anthem is pleased to participate in this exciting initiative encouraging families to be healthier.  Our goal is to demonstrate how evidence-based interventions like Kurbo can, through mobile-experiences and personal coaching, improve nutrition, increase physical activity and decrease weight,” said Ruth Raskas, who leads Anthem’s Community Health team.


Childhood obesity remains a significant public health issue with far reaching health and economic consequences.


  • In addition to the increased likelihood of developing weight related health issues such as diabetes, overweight kids miss an average of 12.2 days more of school each year and experience three times more hospitalizations than children at a healthy weight. One out of three kids in the United States is overweight or obese.
  • One out of three teens born after the year 2000 will be diagnosed with Type II diabetes in their lifetime. 


Kurbo’s model is based on, and licensed from, the Stanford Pediatric Weight Control Program at the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.


The program includes:

  • Personal coaching: weekly one-on-one sessions with an expert Kurbo coach
  • A food “traffic light” system: a food classification system – green, yellow, red – that helps kids and families make better food choices 
  • The Kurbo mobile app: a tool for tracking food and activity and for playing games that reinforce healthy choices.


Doctors from San Benito Medical Associates, which also partners with Anthem in its Enhanced Personal Health Care Program, will identify eligible patients and families to participate in the special pilot program. 


“We are really excited to be able to offer Kurbo to families in San Benito County, which has the highest rate of childhood obesity in California” said Ray Kusumoto, a physician assistant at Your Medical Group, one of the San Benito Medical Associates primary care practices.

Media Contact:
Michael Bowman
Ph: (916) 584-6043