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Four Area Schools to Participate in Utah Horsepower Challenge to Fight Childhood Obesity

Jim Boylen Helps Lead Kickoff at Dilworth Elementary School Thursday


Tuesday, May 5, 2009 1:00 pm EDT



Public Company Information:


SALT LAKE CITY--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Four area schools are working with health-benefits company Humana of Utah to promote physical fitness by offering more than 250 sixth grade students and their teachers a program that combines real-world exercise with an online game. Humana will launch Utah Horsepower Challenge as a way to motivate kids to get healthier – and have fun while they’re doing it.

On Thursday, May 7 at 1:30 p.m., school officials and students of Dilworth Elementary School, 1953 South 2100 East in Salt Lake City, will join Humana of Utah President Earl F. Hurst and University of Utah Head Basketball Coach Jim Boylen in leading a kickoff of the Utah Horsepower Challenge for sixth-grade students.

Other area elementary schools involved include Cottonwood Elementary School in the Granite School District in Holladay, Majestic Elementary School in the Jordon School District in West Jordan, and Willow Valley 6-7 Center in the Cache County School District in Wellsville.

Increasing activity at the grade-school level is critical. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than tripled over the past two decades. The most recent statistics show that 34 percent of America’s children are overweight. If this trend continues, it could cut two to five years from the average American’s lifespan, according to a study by the American Heart Association, and result in a dramatic increase in already prevalent chronic conditions.

“At Humana, we are concerned about the rates of childhood obesity facing our nation, and want to do something positive to address the issue,” said Hurst. “We must look for creative solutions that engage kids in getting healthy. This program incorporates exercise with video games, an activity that kids love.”

The Utah Horsepower Challenge is part of a trend known as “exergaming” that incorporates real-world movement into video games. For example, this program incorporates actual physical activity (steps walked) into an online race. Students and teachers from the four schools will compete to see which school accumulates the most number of steps.

“Childhood obesity is reaching epidemic proportions in the United States. Initiatives like Utah Horsepower Challenge teach kids that staying active is key to staying healthy,” said Hurst. “For children to add exercise to their daily routine, it has to be fun. Kids love games and computers, so we combined the two.”

About The Utah Horsepower Challenge

The four participating schools have more than 250 sixth graders and their teachers wearing smart pedometers, called ActiPeds, on their shoes to monitor their daily activity for two weeks. The steps the kids take are wirelessly uploaded to www.horsepowergame.com while the Horsepower game is played. Each participant receives a cartoon horse avatar that joins their teammates on a virtual bus to transport them around the globe. The distance covered by the bus is based on the schools’ collective steps.

A pilot program at five schools in Louisville, Ky., where Humana is based, showed encouraging results. At the end of the challenge:

  • 100 students had walked a collective 6,364 miles, a 13 percent increase over the previous four weeks
  • 62 percent of the students reported that they exercised more than usual because of the challenge
  • 53 percent of the students said they got their families to exercise with them
  • 45 percent of the kids said they even started eating healthier during the challenge

Humana Inc.’s Games for Health team developed the Horsepower Challenge and works to create new games for people of all ages to reach new levels of health and well-being through games and technology.

About Humana Inc.

Humana Inc., headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, is one of the nation’s largest publicly traded health and supplemental benefits companies, with approximately 10.4 million medical members. Humana is a full-service benefits-solutions company, offering a wide array of health and supplementary benefit plans for employer groups, government programs and individuals.

Over its 48-year history, Humana has consistently seized opportunities to meet changing customer needs. Today, the company is a leader in consumer engagement, providing guidance that leads to lower costs and a better health plan experience throughout its diversified customer portfolio.

More information regarding Humana is available to investors via the Investor Relations page of the company’s Web site at http://www.humana.com, including copies of:

-- Annual reports to stockholders

-- Securities and Exchange Commission filings

-- Most recent investor conference presentations

-- Quarterly earnings news releases

-- Replays of most recent earnings release conference calls

-- Calendar of events (includes upcoming earnings conference call dates and times, as well as planned interaction with research analysts and institutional investors)

-- Corporate Governance Information


Humana Corporate Communications
Anna Hobbs, 214-336-1821