Citylabs 1.0 hosts two day hackathon for Public Health England to tackle childhood obesity

Friday 13th May

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This week Citylabs 1.0 hosted an exciting two day event for Public Health England’s ‘Health X’ Hackathon run by Manchester Digital. This was a UK first, with Public Health England selecting  Manchester as its city of choice to find the next generation of solutions to tackle childhood obesity. As the UK’s leading centre for digital health,  it was great for Citylabs 1.0 to be the home of such an important national initiative.

The Hackathon brought together health experts and digital creatives with the aim of creating new digital tools that will encourage children to eat better and become more active in light of the increasing problem of childhood obesity. This problem has been highlighted by The World Health Organisation as one of the most serious public health challenges for the 21st century as new data shows that 34% of children aged 10-11 were either overweight or obese.

Over these two days around 50 hackers teamed up to develop innovative apps involving educational games, tasks and incentives for children to lead fit and healthy lifestyles. Rachel Thompson, Events and Marketing Manager from Manchester Digital, explained that childhood obesity is high on Public Health England’s agenda and that it is time to come up with new ideas that really engage with the younger generation in order to have a real impact.

To tap into what this generation really engage with, primary school children from Mesne Lea Primary school came along to the first day of the Hackathon. Aged between 7 and 10 years old, they came to challenge the developers and inform the process. They tested products, gave feedback and were very honest about what children like. This helped the teams get creative with their ideas before standing in front of a panel of expert judges from across the UK.

This Health X Hackathon helps to demonstrate how Manchester can lead the way in bringing together health and tech communities, with Citylabs 1.0 providing an ideal environment for digital health innovation to flourish. It was fantastic to see so much talent assembling at MSP, demonstrating the value of collaboration and the amazing results that can be achieved when we work together.