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DANVILLE, Pa. – Geisinger has been selected as one of the winners for the Phase 1 of the "Using Technology to Prevent Childhood Obesity in Low-Income Families and Communities Challenge" by HRSA's Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB). The challenge aims to empower low income families to achieve healthy lifestyles and improve the health of communities across the U.S. using different approaches and technology platforms. The team in Geisinger initiated the creation of an app for pediatric patients that makes exercising seem like play called Pediatricians Prescribing Play. 
Each Phase 1 winner was awarded a $10,000 cash prize and will move on to Phase 2 to develop their prototype and begin small-scale testing through July 2019. Phase 1 winners will be collaborating with different populations, including breastfeeding mothers, children ages birth to 19, Latino, American Indian and Alaska Native families, and families with children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 
Since 1980, childhood obesity rates for 2- to 19-year-olds have tripled, with rates of obesity in 6- to 11-year-olds more than doubling, and rates of obesity in 12- to 19-year-olds quadrupling.
“Ensuring a healthy lifestyle for children is a priority to most parents yet many of us struggle with finding the right resources. This app will enable pediatricians to provide these resources for parents to use at their convenience. The app will store a list of play resources specific to an area for parents to explore the opportunities to "play" in their community. The app is also interactive which makes using it much more fun”, said Geisinger nutrition and weight management specialist, Dr. Jennifer Franceschelli Hosterman. 
While improved eating behaviors and increased physical activity play a large role in obesity prevention, additional public health factors such as limited access to affordable, healthy food options, social and cultural norms, and limited availability of safe places to play also impact childhood obesity rates.
While existing apps and tools address individual behaviors, such as exercise and nutrition, their uptake in underserved communities is limited because they are not tailored to the needs, challenges, and barriers to healthy weight in these communities. The goal of this challenge is to make technology work for the family as a unit within the reality of their larger community environment.

About Geisinger
Geisinger is committed to making better health easier for the more than 1 million people it serves. Founded more than 100 years ago by Abigail Geisinger, the system now includes 10 hospital campuses, a health plan with more than half a million members, a research institute and the Geisinger College of Health Sciences, which includes schools of medicine, nursing and graduate education. With more than 25,000 employees and 1,700+ employed physicians, Geisinger boosts its hometown economies in Pennsylvania by billions of dollars annually. Learn more at or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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