Teenagers are motivated by self esteem and for a teenager, being overweight plays a role in one’s perception of themselves.
Stuart Karten Design (SKD) was challenged by Dr Leslie Saxon to develop a solution that empowers students to learn about nutrition and exercise and to gain the ability to be self motivated and proactive in how they approach their physical health.
To find a solution, first they looked in to what they care about which was things like fun, friends, sports, magazines, food, fashion, technology and celebrities.
They determined that teens cared the most about fashion because it allowed them to feel and look good. Fashion increased their self esteem.
So with that in mind, SKD presented a program designed to fight childhood obesity by motivating young people to make healthy choices. SKD’s solution is DownWithDenim.org, a program that connects health with appearance and uses visualization and fashion to motivate overweight or obese students to take control of their shape, and gain a healthier body.
“Self-image is the elephant in the room when people talk about obesity,” said SKD principal Stuart Karten. “People refer to health, but they skirt around the topic of appearance.
A young person who is obese is heavily impacted by their appearance emotionally. “We wanted to open up that part of the conversation in a positive way.” (Karten, 2011)
The program begins with a mobile ‘DownWithDenim’ truck, where a team of community dieticians and stylists help students become inspired and make an initial commitment to their physical and emotional health.
A “Magic Mirror” inside the truck provides a powerful visualization tool: using augmented reality, students view how they would look at their healthy Body Mass Index (BMI). This image is then sent to the student electronically to be used as a source of motivation. DownWithDenim.org provides the knowledge, resources and personal support to help students achieve their healthy BMI.
When signing up for the program, students receive a free pair of jeans that is one size down, and meet a personal nutritionist and trainer who will teach them how to fit into that size through weekly virtual meetings. When that pair of jeans fits, the students can consult with a dietician and make an appointment to select another pair of jeans in the next size down, until they achieve a healthy BMI. Follow-up consultations and monitoring are essential to ensure healthy weight loss. Healthcare professionals and dietitians emphasize that losing just five to ten percent of one’s body weight can have a tremendous impact on his or her health.
For an obese person, this five to ten percent generally corresponds with one pant/trouser/jean size. As participants’ waistlines shrink, their self-esteem grows. The jeans themselves become a concrete representation of progress as, each day, the zipper begins to slide smoothly upward, inch by inch which indicates improved health.
Karten Design, 2011, GOOD Magazine, USC Center for Body Computing, viewed on 20th August <http://kartendesign.com/work/all-products/down-with-denim/>
Levent Ozler, 2011, SKD Introduces DownWithDenim: A Solution for Childhood Obesity, Dexigner, Viewed on 20th August <http://www.dexigner.com/news/22892>
GOODDesignEvent’s channel 2011, Stuart Karten Design for USC Center for Body Computing, Youtube, viewed on 20th Aug <https://youtu.be/E36pFJtG5fU>