The West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency, which provides insurance to public sector workers such as teachers and government officials, has recruited 85 children to take part in a study aimed at reducing the costs associated with covering obesity-related claims for its clients. The study examines the possibility of using Konami's Dance Dance Revolution
games to encourage weight loss at an early age.
"Today's kids are tomorrow's members," said PEIA health promotions manager Nidia Henderson, explaining the focus on children rather than PEIA members. "Obesity claims last year cost us $77 million. We have to curtail those costs." The study, which is currently budgeted at $60,000, provides each of the selected 85 child participants with a game system, copy of the game, and dance pad. Each child in the six-month program is required to play the game for a designated amount of time, as well as wear a pedometer and provide reports for the researchers.
The insurance agency is also investing $10,000 to place the game in 20 public schools throughout the state as part of the test. Though the study has not reached any conclusions so far, early anecdotal evidence is fairly positive.