Who Takes the Most Steps? – Competition to Raise Teen Awareness about Physical Activity

A ‘step-counting competition’ has been launched using digital pedometers to raise teen awareness for getting enough regular physical activity: That is the goal of the initiative at “Z4”, a Düsseldorf youth recreation center. Studies show that the percentage of overweight children and teens has increased by 50 percent compared to the 1980s and 1990s. The Regional Innovation Network (RIN) Diabetes at the DZD site Düsseldorf aims to counteract this trend together with its partners and the municipal youth recreation center Z4.

Active with every step: The young people of the Z4 recreation center are competing in three teams of five members against a five-member team of youth educators from the Youth Office of the Department of Children and Youth. When the pedometers, which were sponsored by the Youth Protection Agency, were distributed, the excitement among the teenagers was palpable. The girl group immediately tested the wearing comfort of the device; the team of boys examined the technical settings. The five-member boy team from the neighboring refugee shelter showed how much they wanted to win and already assumed a victory pose. The teens and young adults between the ages of 14 and 27 years are curious and excited to see how far they will come in the next two weeks of the competition. 

“Motivating young people in their different social environments is a great challenge,” said Dr. Olaf Spörkel, head of RIN Diabetes. However, since studies show that being overweight as a child can lead to high blood pressure, disturbances of the lipid metabolism or diabetes and thus to numerous complications in adulthood, such preventive measures are important. Especially boys and girls from socially disadvantaged families are three times as likely to be obese than children and adolescents with a high social status. 

The Regional Innovation Network (RIN) Diabetes, working in an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary alliance, aims to reduce the incidence of people with diabetes in Düsseldorf and the number of cases of diabetes-related late complications such as nerve and organ damage. Together with partners from various disciplines such as the city of Düsseldorf, health insurance companies, research centers, practicing diabetologists and self-help groups, the alliance has developed a broad-based knowledge and competence platform. The Regional Innovation Network (RIN) Diabetes is funded by the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Research of North Rhine-Westphalia. More information can be found at