How do we facilitate children with obesity in terms of managing a balanced diet
and overcoming issues relating to social withdrawal?
End of study project and Master's thesis.
Obesity represents a big global public health issue, which many scientists have named as the XXI century epidemic due to its magnitude, its growth rate, and the negative effect it has on the population. Although genetic vulnerability plays a role, obesity is predominantly caused by high-energy food consumption plus physical inactivity. However, the disease is 100% curable in all cases if the necessary efforts are made. Young obese people aged from 9 to 17 years old will be the target of my product, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, which are more easily affected by the disease and for whom changes require more efforts.
The current care system has many shortcomings that fail to curb the epidemic. Due to insufficient budget allocated by the government, the children can not all have access to specialized follow-ups. Moreover, obese people often suffer from stigmatization and shame, which leads to social withdrawal and self-depreciation, the key reasons why it is so complicated to take in account all the facets of the problem. The lack of self-esteem reduces the motivation required to make changes in order to fight obesity. My aim is, rather than focusing on nutrition and physical activities, to have a more sensitive approach. To change behavior successfully, the obese child should be placed in a positive social context. It is important to keep a healthy relation to food. The concern here is also to highlight each step of the treatment so that it is well perceived by the children and they can be proud of themselves, and by so doing, increase motivation.
I created Olen : a mobile phone application combined with a personal object. The final goal is to assist teens by giving them greater autonomy in dealing with their weight problem. This can lead to increased motivation and enable them to become actors in their own treatment. It focuses on socialization as a way to increase self-confidence and encourage one another, and act in the private sphere to make the teens change their food and sport habits durably.
How does it work ?
The object is given to the overweight child during his first medical consultation, as the reward for the courage needed to make the first step of the treatment. He download the application and set objectives with the doctor on the BMI curve. They will create 4 steps in the treatment and a final goal.
The object is like a paper art-toy. The child can draw on the outside layer and express his feelings on it. When it is time to remove the layer and burry it in the soil, it symbolises the loss of weight and the benefit it has by giving birth to a plant. Having a tangible result of the efforts made by the children helps to keep motivation even in the hardest times.
The application is divided into 3 menus : Personnal Follow-up, Challenges and Community. The challenges are a database of recommandations created by the medical professionals. The proposes everyday little tips to make every day life healthier. The aim is to show to the user that healthy habits can be fun, in the aim to make the child adopt new behavior durably. The children are free to choose the challenges they want to do, and share their experiences with the other users by commenting and rating the challenges, and sharing pictures with the community.
For each step accomplished in the treatment, the user will reach a new level : from Novice to Master. The icons represent strenght attributes of "fighters" animals, symbolising the fight of the child against the desease but also the proudness for not giving up.
The object is a statue covered by 4 layers of biodegradable cardboard containing each of them seeds of an edible plant which can grow indoor. For each step of the treatment accomplished by the child, the application will notify the child to remove one layer of the personnal object and gives the instructions on how to proceed to plant the seed contained in the biodegradable cardboard. The aim of growing the plant is to reconnect the user to the slow process of producing food and encourage to try more of the non-processed greens.
At the end of the treatment, when the child remove the last layer, he will get the final Olen statue, and keep it as a trophee. An obese children will have to keep doing efforts all his life to not gain weight again, and keeping the little statue is an eternal memory.