Carnegie Mellon, Eat’n Park Team Up Against Obesity

With obesity rates on the rise, the Carnegie Mellon University School of Design's Fitwits project and Pittsburgh-based Eat'n Park Restaurants are joining forces to help fight the epidemic.

Fitwits is a fun, hands-on program designed to inform kids and families about healthy eating and active living. The game encourages families to interact with each other, ask questions and discuss health in a fun and engaging way. For five weeks, starting on Aug. 1, 2011, Eat'n Park Restaurants will introduce the Fitwits program to guests by offering a series of five Fitwits collectible character cards to families. Each card contains nutritional information, recipes, trivia and memory triggers to teach children about appropriate portion sizes.

During those five weeks, or while supplies last, families at Eat'n Park can request a free Fitwits Memory Game and Recipe Cards. In addition, families can participate in Fitwits' first-ever text-messaging game called Road Trip with Elvis, which allows families to advise Fitwits character Elvis Pretzley how to make healthy choices during his busy travel schedule.

"For the past four years, our team has worked to improve health communication and education for kids," says Kristin Hughes, associate professor of design at Carnegie Mellon who leads Fitwits. "Increased health literacy and an understanding of nutrition provide the basic foundation needed to learn new skills that will help individuals identify and change bad habits, making them proactive participants in their own families' health. By changing the way people think about nutrition, we can change our communities for the better."

The Fitwits partnership is the most recent element in Eat'n Park's LifeSmiles initiative, a five-year, $1 million commitment to children's health and wellness. This comprehensive, community-wide wellness program is framed around the four pillars of First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move!" campaign.

"Eat'n Park is committed to giving families the resources and knowledge they need to make healthier choices. Because of that, we think it's very important to support and amplify successful health initiatives like Fitwits," says Brooks Broadhurst, Eat'n Park's senior vice president, Food and Beverage.  "An important element of LifeSmiles is empowering our guests with choices and Fitwits provides a great, easy-to-understand dialogue about healthy choices. We're proud of this partnership."

Fitwits is a collaborative project between CMU's School of Design and UPMC St. Margaret Family Health Centers. The Fitwits and Eat'n Park partnership to fight childhood obesity was made possible by a $125,000 grant from The Heinz Endowments. Open Science Initiative developed the text message game, and Tropo donated all text-messaging services.

News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by WTWH Media LLC.