Obesity has enormous impacts on health and quality of life, and Chile has one of the highest obesity rates in the world—with more than 50 percent of the children in Santiago classified as obese or overweight. Obesity increases the risk of chronic conditions, reduces the capacity to do and enjoy physical activity, impairs learning and social participation, and is linked to increased pain and disability. The condition disproportionately affects lower socioeconomic groups, driving up health-care costs, reducing labor productivity and deepening inequality.
Santiago is using gamification to tackle obesity by encouraging children and their families to eat healthy food and engage in physical activity. Public and private schools will take part in health challenges that build good habits in the students and families they serve. Working together to combat childhood obesity, classes can earn points and win prizes, which include field trips, playgrounds, and other activities.
The city has been a national leader in implementing programs to fight chronic diseases and improve public health. Past successes include a network of healthy canteens in public schools, a chain of freshly squeezed citrus juice carts, and a health-promoting playground for children under 5. Building on this tradition, Santiago is preparing a pilot program in three schools in 2017, and aims to reach 90 percent of the city’s schools by 2019.