Promoting healthy lifestyles and food awareness among teenagers through games and technology - this is the goal of "Pegaso, Fit for Future", a project co-funded by the European Union, directed by the Department of Design of the Politecnico di Milano, and managed by the Fondazione Politecnico di Milano.
Challenge youth on their own turf
"The Pegaso project has been created to make adolescents aware of the importance of healthy nutrition, physical activities and maintaining a healthy lifestyle", project officer Robert Begier of the European Commission explains. "Pegaso will achieve this through engagement activities designed to challenge youth on their own turf: games, social networks and smartphones."
Project manager Renata Guarneri says: "We aim to create a learning platform capable of educating youth. It will feature virtual and real-life games and group challenges, so in a 'social' approach they will each influence one another."
The project will employ some of today's most advanced technologies: In addition to a dedicated smartphone app, a virtual community, and a game, it will involve the use of wearable devices, designed by the project, capable of monitoring the teens' physical parameters, and also of interfacing with the entire project's toolkit, in order to prevent obesity and other health problems and long-term consequences caused by reduced physical activity and unbalanced diet.
Events and meetings
The Pegaso project aims not only at improving adolescents’ lifestyles. It also wants to provide support to families, schools, and doctors, through awareness-raising initiatives, events, and meetings with experts, in order to increase understanding and promote a balanced, healthy lifestyle and diet.
Obesity: a major challenge
Obesity and other lifestyle-related illness are among the top healthcare challenges in Europe. Obesity alone accounts for up to 7% of healthcare costs in the EU, as well as wider economy costs associated with lower productivity, lost output and premature death.
"Obesity at a young age is an alarming predictor for obesity in adulthood. But it also entails short term health complications, and obese teenagers are more at risk for having social and psychological problems", Guarneri concludes.
Co-financed under the European Union’s FP7 Program, the Pegaso project will engage the participation of an international and interdisciplinary task force including 17 partners from 7 European countries.