Using technology to fight against childhood obesity

By December 16, 2011
Fat Kid

As nearly one out of every three children in the United States suffers from obesity, Sony has created a device to help Americans fight this ongoing combat. Though knowing about the epidemic is half the battle, technology isn’t the solution to the other half.

Sony has created the IHT Spirit System that allows PE teachers to place heart monitors on its students during physical activity, keeping track of the child’s heart rate.  This device is later swiped over an NFC reader that stores the student’s activity information, allowing the ability to monitor the progress, or lack thereof, over a period of time.

As sedentary lifestyles amongst Americans are on the rise, I applaud Sony for having their hearts in the right place.  This complex, multi-dimensional problem cannot be tackled by simply measuring the heart rates of children.  However, if increased physical fitness amongst our little ones is the primary objective, the IHT system is a myopic solution offering snail-like progress to a cultural and class-related epidemic.

Kids are easily influenced by everything--parents, television, and moreover other kids.  Fitting in is the norm and culture rules. Where Sony misses the mark is that societal norms are the dominant force and that the IHT Spirit System won’t build habits that will last a lifetime.

Instead of making children feel like lab rats by strapping a device on them for an hour, attention needs to be focused on constructing a society that encourages physical activity in all forms. Coming from a company that specializes in gluing consumers to a screen to play video games, the gest is nice, but changing our cultural attitudes to fitness will go a lot further.

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