How Pokémon Go Could Be The Best Campaign Against Obesity
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How Pokémon Go Could Be The Best Campaign Against Obesity

And I would walk 500 miles because I gotta catch'em all.

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How Pokémon Go Could Be The Best Campaign Against Obesity

First and foremost, I don’t play "Pokémon." I slightly judge people who play only because I usually see them playing in the worst settings, like driving, during a work meeting or crossing a busy intersection. And I was never really interested in Pokémon growing up (I wasn’t allowed to have video games or anything when I was younger), so I don’t really care for it.

That being said, from a public health standpoint, "Pokémon Go" is genius.

For those of you behind with the times (or have been living under a rock), "Pokémon Go" is a new game that has taken the nation by storm. It seems almost overnight that the app became a sensation.

“My Pokémon username and password are the most important logins in my life right now,” one of my friends tells me as he tries to catch a Zubat.

Essentially, the player walks around (or drives, although that is highly not recommended) and “catches” Pokémon. The creators of the game joined with Google Maps, so the app can track your location and show you Pokémon nearby. You move your camera around to see it, and then throw Pokeballs to catch one.

I initially assumed people would just go about their daily lives and catch any Pokémon they ran into along their route. But I was grossly mistaken. People will go out of their way to walk around, searching for Pokémon to boost their scores and advance to the next level. Even in the 100 degrees Fahrenheit weather in Houston, kids are walking around parks and neighborhoods with their phones in hand, on the lookout for characters they don’t have. For example, my friends and I ordered pizza for dinner last Sunday night. And rather than sitting around the house waiting for the delivery guy, we walked outside around the apartment catching Pokémon.

People have jokingly said, “Obesity in America will be at an all-time low because of 'Pokémon Go',” but there may be some truth in that exaggeration. Because of this game and the competition against other players, people are becoming more physically active, whereas general public health campaigns, such as First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign, have similar ideas, but were less successful.

Sure, the game is the newest trend and will eventually fade out. But it’s a marketing campaign government organizations can learn from for increasing physical activity and decrease obesity within America. Pairing an emotional attachment (since many kids grew up playing "Pokémon") and a competition has influenced people to take the extra step – literally – which is a victory in public health.

So while the trend is still hot, maybe the First Lady could encourage more kids to move by hosting a "Pokémon Go" search party on the White House south lawn. And I can coerce my friends into going on leisure walks with me, so I’m not alone and they can catch Pokémon. It’s a win-win.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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