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Sweatin' to the PS2

As if it's not bad enough that video games are turning our nation's youth into mindless killers, public health experts are increasingly worried that games are also helping kids turn into overweight couch potatoes.

A regional health insurance company wants to see if it can improve the odds, according to an Associated Press report, by encouraging kids to shift their PlayStation 2 time to the physically demanding "Dance Dance Revolution."

West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency is conducting a survey in which 85 overweight youngster are being encouraged to work out several times a day with the game, in which players score points by energetically bouncing around on a special floor mat. Anecdotal evidence is already accumulating that the game could be a significant and surreptitious motivator for kids to boost their physical activity and cut their weight.

Robrietta Lambert, a physical education teacher at Franklin Elementary in Pendleton County, W.V., has been using "Dance Dance" in her classes for nearly a year. "It improves cardiovascular health as well as eye-hand coordination," she told AP. "Kids who don't like other things bloom on this. If they don't like basketball, jumping rope or ball activities, they like this."

"Dance Dance" joins an increasing arsenal of ploys using video games to trick kids into physical activity.