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Health advocacy group forms unlikely alliance, endorses video games in obesity campaign

May 19, 2010
by JOEL SCHECTMAN
Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) - Talk about strange bedfellows. The American Heart Association and Nintendo Co. are teaming up to promote the popular Wii video game console, as the health advocacy group concedes that its campaign for traditional exercise isn't working.

The surprising partnership, announced Monday, comes amid growing concern about obesity among kids who spend much of their time watching television and playing video games.

Nintendo will be able to brand its Wii products with the AHA's iconic heart logo to let consumers know that the organization considers the items a healthy choice. Nintendo will donate $1.5 million to the AHA as part of the partnership.

"We can keep beating the drum on traditional exercise and make small changes to the obesity epidemic, or we can try something that is really provocative and new," Clyde Yancy, the AHA's president, said in an interview.

Numerous studies show a correlation between obesity and the amount of time children spend with television and video games. Jeffrey Levi, executive director of Trust for America's Health, said the best solution is simply to cut the cord and encourage youths to spend less time in front of screens.

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