NUI Galway students develop website to tackle child obesity

The PrimaryFit website creators  - Louis Queally, Rajit Patel, Paul O’Leary, Akshay Oswal, Dr Trevor Clohessy and Yash Paithankar from NUI Galway. Photo: NUI Galway

The PrimaryFit website creators - Louis Queally, Rajit Patel, Paul O’Leary, Akshay Oswal, Dr Trevor Clohessy and Yash Paithankar from NUI Galway. Photo: NUI Galway

A group of NUI Galway students has developed a website to tackle child obesity among primary school children.

Five students from the MSc in Information Systems Management course at the university developed and launched the website ‘PrimaryFit’ under the guidance of their lecturer, Dr Trevor Clohessy.

The students are:- Akshay Oswal, Louis Queally, Paul O’Leary, Rajit Patel, and Yash Paithankar. The website was created to help communities tackle child obesity in Ireland.

The students developed an operation transformation type platform for primary school students as part of a project within their course module. They engaged with the local community to gather information which provided them with specific requirements on how the website should look.

‘PrimaryFit’ consists of easy to access meal and exercise plans with a designated discussion forum for teachers and parents and community engagement. The website also offers features such as Exercise Plans, Time Based Workouts, Healthy School Meals, a Body Mass Index (BMI ) calculator, Weight Tracker and a Calorie Counter. There is also a section where people can connect with local nutrition and physical exercise experts to get their opinions on relevant issues.

Dr Trevor Clohessy from the JE Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway, said the university is very proud of the students’ efforts to create such a “wonderful” platform.

“This website is one of the first to tackle the growing issue of childhood obesity. Latest statistics compiled by the NCD Risk Factor Collaboration and reported in The Lancet medical journal, outlined how almost a third of Irish children are now overweight. Motivated by the national success of the operation transformation initiatives, I tasked the students to create a platform which would be community led.

“This platform will allow primary school teachers to not only access a variety of information resources with regards to fun exercise programmes, meals and nutritional advice, which are suitable for specific age groups, but also enable them to report how effective they were and also contribute to the platform. The primary aim of this website will be to harness the wisdom of the community in order to promote an environment which encourages healthy physical activity and eating habits.”

Speaking about the project, the NUI Galway students, said: “The fact that this project consisted of us tackling a real-life problem brought some passion and inspiration to the table as we all wanted to try and make a difference to the local community. Child obesity is an issue which is spiralling out of control in Ireland, everyone on the team knows at least one child who is affected by child obesity and as a result their future is negatively impacted, which is concerning when it can be easily avoided with correct practices in place.

“We would like this platform to be a community driven initiative and we have provided an option to submit ideas for children’s exercise or nutrition plans with a mechanism to moderate the submitted content. We believe that we have designed a platform which will brighten the future of many young people suffering from the negative aspects of child obesity in Ireland, through community collaboration and participation.”

The students developed the platform and hosted it on the internet by using technologies and techniques they learnt through a wide range of modules from the MSc in Information Systems Management course at the college. They set up user management and moderation facilities to combat the negative aspects of discussion forums, gathered extensive feedback during the design phase of the website and used design techniques such as card sorting, prototyping and design thinking.

To view the website, log on to http://www.primaryfit.ie/

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