Fighting childhood obesity: Exchanging exercise for gaming

HOUSTON - Remember when playtime had less to do with screens, and more to do with skipping? ... Or jumping?

Nerf remembers.

“This is a way that we can really take technology and mirror it with fun for the kids, and finding ways to get them off the couch and get out and having a good time,” said Marian Cabanillas, Health Plan President for South Texas at United Healthcare.

United Healthcare donated 150 Nerf Energy Game Kits to kids at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Houston Holthouse Club.

“It's actually addressing a national epidemic that's out there which is a crisis around obesity, actually in Texas 37% of children have an issue with obesity,” Cabanillas said.

Childhood obesity increases kids' risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, asthma and a whole bunch of psychological problems.

Instead of fighting what could be a losing battle trying to keep kids out from behind a screen, Nerf has jumped on board.

“They've got this wristband that is an activity tracker, in addition to a soccer ball and an app that comes on their phone. Kids go outside, they get a lot of activity and they earn points and those points are then transferred into game time that they can use on the app,” Cabanillas explained.

And using video games as an incentive for more active play is a carrot, instead of a stick.  Game on kiddos, just make sure you put in your steps first!