Study Shows Technology Gets Kids Moving 59% More

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Game-based Zamzee® product significantly increases physical activity levels, has positive impact on risk factors for heart disease, diabetes

"This study shows that technology is not just part of the problem; it can also be part of the solution in helping kids be more physically active,” said Steve Cole, Ph.D., VP of Research and Development at HopeLab and Professor of Medicine, UCLA.

New technologies offer the potential to change sedentary behavior among adolescents by tapping into kids’ affinity for digital games. But research on the behavioral and biological impact of such products has been limited, raising the question: Do they really work?

New data announced today by HopeLab show that Zamzee®, a pocket-sized activity meter that connects to a motivational game-based website, increased physical activity levels in kids by 59% over a six-month period and reduced biological risk factors for heart disease and diabetes. These results from a study sponsored by HopeLab and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation were announced September 23 at the 2012 Obesity Society Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas.

The randomized, controlled study evaluated the effects of Zamzee, developed by HopeLab, in a diverse sample of 448 middle-school-aged adolescents enrolled from urban, suburban and rural environments across the U.S. Half of the study participants used Zamzee, an activity meter that measures movement using a three-axis accelerometer and uploads physical activity data to a motivational game-based website. The website allows kids to view their activity levels, earn points for movement, achieve goals, and select rewards. The other half of study participants in the control group received a Zamzee activity meter that uploaded physical activity data but had no access to the motivational website.

In the study, kids using the Zamzee activity meter and website showed an average increase in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) of 59% – or approximately 45 additional minutes of MVPA per week – compared to the control group. This impact persisted throughout the six-month study period. Significant increases in physical activity were seen across a number of key groups at risk for sedentary behavior, including a 27% increase in MVPA among overweight participants (BMI >25) and a 103% increase in MVPA among girls.

In addition, study data also showed that Zamzee had a positive effect on key biological factors associated with diseases linked to sedentary behavior. Over six months, participants who used Zamzee showed reduced gains in LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, which is a risk factor for heart disease. Participants who consistently used Zamzee also showed improved blood sugar control (HbA1c), a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

"This study shows that technology is not just part of the problem; it can also be part of the solution in helping kids be more physically active,” said Steve Cole, Ph.D., Vice President of Research and Development at HopeLab and Professor of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. “These results also show that Zamzee can increase physical activity enough to improve some of the key biological processes that underlie the long-term disease risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle.”

Sedentary behavior is a major problem of national importance. There are approximately 20 million tweens and young teens in the U.S., and research shows that sedentary behavior is putting this generation at risk for serious and costly long-term health problems, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

In 2010, based on early research indicating the positive impact of Zamzee, HopeLab launched Zamzee as a social enterprise experiment aimed at developing scalable, sustainable ways to distribute Zamzee and increase physical activity in sedentary kids and kids at risk for sedentary behavior. HopeLab continues to partner with Zamzee in ongoing research and distribution activities to support the social mission of the product. The Zamzee product is now available to the public at [

“As more and more people discover Zamzee, we consistently hear from kids and families that it’s a fun, engaging way to make physical activity a regular part of their daily lives,” said Lance Henderson, CEO of Zamzee. “These new data show that Zamzee is also an effective way to improve health, which is inspiring to us and our partners as we work to put Zamzee into the hands of kids and families across the U.S.”

About HopeLab
HopeLab is a non-profit organization founded in 2001 by Board Chair Pam Omidyar. HopeLab harnesses the power and appeal of technology to improve the health of young people. HopeLab applies a research-based, customer-focused development model to create products that positively impact health behavior. HopeLab is part of the Omidyar Group philanthropic enterprises. For more information, please visit

About Zamzee
Zamzee is a social enterprise on a mission to make it easier for tweens and families to be more physically active. The Zamzee meter and motivational website is the result of several years of research and design based on feedback from kids and families. The Zamzee meter is sold for $29.95; access to the Zamzee website is free of charge. Zamzee was established in 2010 by HopeLab, a nonprofit research organization that uses the power and appeal of technology to improve the health of kids. Initial research and development of Zamzee was conducted by HopeLab, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. For more information, please visit

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