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Experts suggest Pokémon Go could ease Type 2 diabetes burden

Hundreds of students and staff around the University and city have caught Poké-fever, joining millions of people worldwide in playing viral mobile app Pokémon Go - a virtual reality treasure hunt where players walk to places in the real world to catch, train and battle monsters.

As walking and exploring is a big part of the experience, leading diabetes researchers believe the smartphone craze could be an “innovative solution” to rising obesity levels and chronic disease.

Dr Tom Yates, a Reader in Physical Activity, Sedentary Behaviour and Health based at the Leicester Diabetes Centre, said: “Recent figures suggest five million people in England are at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, which is largely associated with physical inactivity obesity.

“If there is something out there which is getting people off the sofa and pounding the streets then this game could be an innovative solution for rising obesity levels.

“Walking is hugely underrated yet it is man’s best and the cheapest form of exercise. It’s an easy and accessible way to get active and help maintain a healthy body.”

The app was first launched in the US, Australia and New Zealand and has now been released in the UK, Canada and Japan, among other countries. It already boasts more active users than dating app Tinder and has overtaken social networking site Twitter in daily use.

Obesity is the most potent risk factor for Type 2 diabetes as it accounts for 80–85 per cent of the overall risk of developing the condition.

Last year the findings of a study, which was carried out at the Leicester Diabetes Centre, demonstrated the importance of incorporating breaks in prolonged sitting into otherwise sedentary lifestyles.

If you have caught a rare Pokémon in Pokémon Go around Leicester send a screenshot of it to ap507@le.ac.uk and a selection will be included in this news item.

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