Tech Tackles Childhood Obesity With Sqord

This incentive-filled activity pod’s greatest reward is good health.
(Photo: Alistair Berg/Getty Images)
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Dec 12, 2016· 1 MIN READ
Kelly Bryant is a Los Angeles–based freelance writer covering fashion, pop culture, and parenting for a variety of national publications.

First lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! program put a much-needed spotlight on the issue of childhood obesity. Still, it’s more than an issue—it’s an epidemic. Here’s a sobering statistic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Obesity continues to affect nearly one in six children in the United States. That accounts for about 12.7 million of our youth population.

That’s a tough number to swallow considering the health risks associated with obesity. Early in life, these children have an increased chance of high blood pressure and cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, asthma, and joint problems, among a laundry list of others. This doesn’t even account for the psychological problems associated with obesity, such as depression and low self-esteem, as well as impaired social, physical, and emotional functioning.

Obesity is the result of both genetic and behavioral factors. Society may not have control over heredity (although science is working on that), but we can come together to change our behaviors, subsequently helping our children.

Sqord, an activity pod that works with a correlating app, is determined to get our kids moving. Designed for the junior set, Sqord is one part activity tracker, one part social community, and one part game. It instantly updates a player’s Activity Points when it detects movement. Not just a step counter, Sqord tracks all kinds of movements and uses its own algorithm to convert them into points. The pod also boasts a social element, allowing kids to challenge their Sqord-wearing friends and send high fives for safe and easy interaction.

Health systems, schools, sports teams, and social groups have quickly adopted the technology to focus kids on getting active. In the below video, teachers, coaches, and parents praise the differences they’ve seen in their students and children, noting increased drive toward achieving goals and mental focus.

“My goal is to go to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics,” says Cody, a competitive swimmer, in the clip. “I love sports, but swimming helps me relax, not think about schoolwork.”

An independent health group evaluated a group of fifth graders using Sqord, finding that those who were inactive increased their activity levels by 55 percent. That’s a win for the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which recommends children do at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Sqord has found that the average user earns 46,915 Activity Points, which is equivalent to crossing 88 football fields.

In many cities, it isn’t easy for children to get outside. According to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, only one in five homes has a park within a half mile. Approximately the same number has a rec center within that distance. That doesn’t offer a lot of incentive for physical activity, but Sqord’s tech appeal and social element is challenging kids and their parents to get creative with their time and mobility.

Once children get moving, they’ll have the excitement of earning a Sqord award and the natural health benefits of exercise: Better sleep, increased energy and self-esteem, and the confidence that comes from feeling strong are the gifts that will keep on giving well into adulthood.