Research - 15.06.2012 - 00:00 

With high tech against obesity

About 20 per cent of all children and young people in Switzerland could be suffering from obesity by 2022. Prevention measures are only of use if doctors and those concerned cooperate well. Modern technology is intended to help.<br/>


19 June 2012. The latest report published by the World Health Organisation reveals that more and more children are obese. According to the Federal Office of Public Health, it must be assumed that in 2022, about 20 per cent of all children and young people will be overweight. This will not only have an impact on the physical and psychological well-being of those concerned but also on the health system as a whole: secondary diseases caused by childhood obesity will result in additional costs.

Prevention measures reach very few people
Senior Consultant Dr. Josef Laimbacher and Professor Dagmar l‘Allemand of the Eastern Swiss Children’s Hospital agree: “In order to counter this trend, programmes are required which promote team sports activities, healthy nutritional behaviour and self-esteem.” Only about 800 of the 450,000 obese young people in Switzerland have the means from home to participate in such programmes.

This is where the idea of the SNF research project comes in: PathMate is intended to remove the supply bottleneck with the use of technology. “In the coming three years we’ll investigate in German- and French-speaking Switzerland how teamwork between doctors and young people concerned can be optimally supported in everyday life,” says Wolfgang Maass, project leader and professor at the Institute of Technology Management of the HSG.

Technology for healthy everyday life
The target group of PathMate are overweight people who have not been able to participate in programmes for the therapy or prevention of obesity. The success of the project will not only be judged on the basis of subjective assessments such as physical well-being but also on the strength of objective indicators such as the body mass index. The project is jointly run by experts from the Eastern Swiss Children’s Hospital in St.Gallen and Prof. Yves Schutz from the Physiological Department of the University of Lausanne.

Technical implementation is the responsibility of Dr Florian Michahelles from the Department of Management, Technology and Economics of ETH Zurich and Elgar Fleisch, who is also Professor of Technology Management at the HSG.

Pictures: Photocase / Manun

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