The Problem of Youth Obesity
Adopting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be hard. Many wish to have a healthy life pattern, but either lack the know-how to do this, or simply lack the discipline to maintain it. The NObesitas project is our response in order to counter habits leading to obesity at a young age. This game is primarily aimed at children between twelve and sixteen years old, who cope with problems related to obesity. While this game has a specific audience, it could also be a welcome tool for anyone willing to adopt a different, healthier lifestyle but need a little push due to a lack in willpower to do so on their own.
A Pet Companion
Imagine a companion who is able to constantly motivate you, actively encouraging you to keep at it and change your bad habits into healthy ones. A companion who is always present and who will try to help you, and offer advice or intervention when needed. Therapists and doctors strive to achieve this, but quite often, this situation isn't a realistic goal.
The problem is that constant support is impossible, which in turn causes many to simply slip back into their old habits due to a lack of support. This is where the virtual companion pet comes in. This companion is able to fulfill all these roles when other support is unavailable. It provides the user with the much needed moral support to keep going and at the same time, it will set out a clear trajectory for physical exercises and healthy diets, pervasively nudging the player toward a healthy lifestyle.
Games and Health
The connection between gaming and obesity is often seen as a relation of cause and effect; games as one of the possible causes of obesity. This time it is the other way around. Games are being used as a means of countering obesity instead of contributing for it. Games have the inherent characteristic to motivate the player through its procedural rhetorics. By implementing this element of persuasive nudging into the virtual companion, the app is able to provide pre-emptive treatment, as well as continuous treatment, even without the direct intervention of a doctor or therapist. On top of this, the game provides the player with additional quantified information of their own patterns, habits and how to change them. Through the procedural rhetorics the game makes sure that the motivation for a change in lifestyle, comes form the person itself, not from an external party.
In recent years, youth obesity has been an urgent health issue, troubling many countries. It has been estimated by experts that obesity during youth has at least an 50% likelihood of lingering well into adolescence, which in turn holds the possibility to develop into diabetes, high-blood pressure, gout, and cardiovascular diseases. This makes obesity one of the prevalent problems of our time.