Limburg youth gaming for health
Joint press release by the Province of Limburg, Maastricht UMC+, 457 Independent, Goal043, GGD Zuid-Limburg and Maastricht Sport.
Getting children and young adults to exercise more through serious gaming: this is the goal of the innovative project 'We BOOSTH Limburg', which is financially supported by the Province of Limburg and will be rolled out soon. Maastricht UMC+ will investigate whether BOOSTH can indeed contribute to lasting behaviour changes. The project will be presented today at Gezonde School ’t Spoor (part of the MosaLira foundation) in Maastricht, after which it will be implemented at several primary schools in Maastricht, Sittard-Geleen, Kerkrade and Venlo. The project was developed by the Centre for Overweight Adolescent and Children's Healthcare (COACH), part of Maastricht UMC+, and two commercial parties: 457 Independent and Goal043.
Many young people lead unhealthy lifestyles. They eat too much, consume foods high in fat and sugar and do not exercise enough. As a result, many of them are overweight, which is one of the leading health concerns in the world, in the Netherlands and in Limburg. Obesity can lead to serious health problems such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and sleep apnoea. A healthy lifestyle is extremely important in preventing children from becoming overweight or obese. Making lasting lifestyle changes, however, is easier said than done as habits are hard to break. We BOOSTH Limburg can help.
Many children and young adults devote a considerable amount of time to computer games. We BOOSTH Limburg is taking advantage of this in a clever way with an adventurous jump and run game with three worlds, each of which has twenty levels. Players can earn points playing the game, but can only enter the next level by exercising (walking, running, playing football or climbing stairs while wearing the BOOSTH activity metre). Potential players are approached via schools and COACH, in close collaboration with the cross-discipline professional from Maastricht Sport and the JOGG director. JOGG stands for Jongeren op Gezond Gewicht ('young people at a healthy weight') and aims to combat obesity in children and young adults aged 0 to 19. The game is an integral part of promoting a healthy lifestyle among young people.
BOOSTH was developed by 457 Independent and game designer Goal043. Expertise centre COACH, which aims to inspire young people to make lifestyle changes to improve their health, will carry out a research study to determine the extent to which the BOOSTH intervention actually gets kids moving. The game will be evaluated by more than two thousand primary schools in Limburg and by the more than one hundred children participating in the COACH programme. 'We think this fun tool will help children and young adults exercise more and make them less susceptible to developing health problems,' says paediatrician Anita Vreugdenhil of COACH/Maastricht UMC+. The COACH research team will spend the next few years researching the concrete results.
Improving youth health and eliminating existing health problems are also top concerns for the Province of Limburg. 'The importance of health and exercise is being presented in a different, more enjoyable way,' says Deputy of Work & Welfare, Marleen van Rijnsbergen. 'I have no doubt that my own children will love this game.' We BOOSTH Limburg is supported by the Province of Limburg as part of the Agenda for Health and Care and is part of the Knowledge Axis project Lime. Positive health is also a key concept in the 2025 Social Agenda for Limburg, which aims to strike a better balance in daily life.