Categorized | Social Entrepreneur

Social Entrepreneurs, Seth Tropper and Amado Batour, Fight the Worldwide Obesity Epidemic.

Switch2Health (S2H) co-founders, Seth Tropper and Amado Batour, spent approximately 1.5 years researching the issues surrounding the overweight and obesity epidemic and were horrified by the statistics, especially as they relate to youth. 65% of Americans are overweight or obese; 2 billion people worldwide are overweight or obese; and in America, childhood obesity doubled since the 1970s and tripled since the 1960s.

While there are several contributing factors, lack of physical activity is clearly a large one. Why exercise?

“We believe it comes down to personal motivation and Switch2Health aims to motivate individuals to be physically active by rewarding them for such activity” says Tropper. While a key challenge is in motivating individuals to be physically active, S2H offers an engaging and innovative solution for businesses, organizations and consumers.”

S2H encourages 60 minutes of physical activity per day, which is in accordance with recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Their product, the S2H REPLAY (an “activity reward band”) quantifies physical activity and reveals a unique reward code upon completion of 60 cumulative minutes of physical activity (i.e. jogging, running, dancing, sports, jump-rope). Users enter the code on S2H.COM, earn and accumulate points toward great rewards and more. Rewards range from music and ringtone downloads (200-300 points) to a PlayStation 3 (12,000 points). The message is simple – Be Active, Get Rewards!

The S2H REPLAY includes the blue wristband and module for $19.95 and colored replacement bands are $2.99. These are available to purchase at www.s2h.com.

At a time when kids are bombarded with sedentary distractions like gaming, social networking and watching inordinate amounts of television, S2H has made physical activity both fun and socially desirable. It’s a message that has been echoed by First Lady Michelle Obama, who launched her Let’s Move campaign in the wake of a startling statistic:

“…medical experts are now warning that for the first time in the history of our nation, the

next generation may be on track to having a shorter lifespan than this generation, and

their parents” – First Lady Michelle Obama, October 2009

High profile celebrities and athletes are joining in the mission to promote healthy activity to children, including NBA World Champion Paul Pierce. The mission of Paul Pierce’s Truth on Health Initiative and FitClub34 from Harvard Pilgrim is incredibly synergistic with the mission of Switch2Health, and together they have partnered to positively impact the lives of many children around the country and hopefully around the globe. As part of the partnership, the S2H REPLAY is incorporated into Pierce’s FitClub34, the main component of the NBA All-Star’s Truth on Health Initiative, which empowers young people to lead healthier lives. FitClub34, a fanclub-turned-fit club, uses the device to track participants’ exercise progress and provide incentives and rewards through S2H’s rewards program.

But why does it work?

Tropper explains, “If I were to suggest to a group of adults that they should be physically active because they will live longer, feel better, etc.; the message may go in one ear and out the other. If I were to say, “If you maintain a certain lifestyle of physical activity you will receive $200 of your monthly healthcare cost,” their ears will perk up.

If I were to suggest to a group of children that they should be physically active because they will live longer, feel better, be smarter, etc.; the message is similar to “do your homework” or “take out the garbage”. Yet, if I were to say be physically active and earn rewards such as iTunes downloads, movie tickets, and gift cards, not only will their ears perk up, but they will smile and start running around the block. I have witnessed this and it’s great.”

For the past five months, 10-year-old Andrew Abelow has been working for a new Xbox 360. Along the way, the Morganville, NJ boy has lost five pounds. Abelow is no couch potato, withering away while awaiting his new toy. He has been earning rewards for staying active. “I’ve been running more,” Abelow says, “and I’ve started playing basketball.” A fourth-grader at Marlboro Elementary School, he has racked up 1,980 points toward the Xbox—which he can redeem for 9,600 points.

Last December, Bergen County Technical High physical education teacher Doug Naccara distributed S2H REPLAYS to 100 freshmen as part of a pilot program with Switch2Health. Even Naccara has gotten into the act. “I’m saving for a Nintendo Wii system and am about 3,000 points—or 50 activity hours— away,” he says.

Batour adds “we must change behavior to enable individuals to lead a healthier lifestyle. When I travel, I first call Continental because I want to rack-up frequent flyer miles. When I go to the store, I use American Express so I can get points. I am conditioned. Yes, I believe rewards are a great way to motivate individuals (from children to adults) to be physically active; and ultimately overtime these individuals will feel better about themselves and continue with their healthier lifestyle.”

Following the launch of the first product in 2009, S2H has worked with a range of organizations, including some sports entertainment properties like the Harlem Globetrotters and NFL 60.

The S2H REPLAY and Rewards Platform lend itself to a business solution whereby supporting Incentive Programs, including interactive promotions, customer loyalty and corporate health and wellness programs. Such incentive programs may be utilized in a variety of industries such as sports, charities, healthcare, pharma, education, corporate wellness, retail, entertainment and more. The solution (of branded REPLAY bands and a rewards platform) will promote the companies message or brand; drive traffic and customers to their website; and reward their customers or employees for physical activity.

In fact, S2H has been responsible for over 23,000 hours of activity, helping several thousand individuals get active. They aim for 50,000 hours by the end of the year. “As a visionary, I aim high and want to change the world. Success for S2H is going to sleep each night knowing that we are motivating people to be physically active, and while difficult to measure, perhaps one of the children may very well avoid health risks, now or in their adult life because S2H keeps them active” says Tropper.

Tropper earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and applied statistics from St. John’s University in New York (Class of 1998) and has a master’s degree in technology management from Stevens Institute. Between college and graduate school, he spent about 10 years in information technology management at AT&T and IBM. Prior to that he founded, and then sold, Plasmasol, a medical technology company he spun out of Stevens Institute.

Batour completed a Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering and Product Architecture from Stevens Institute of Technology. He founded AXB Group, Inc., a multidisciplinary design and consultation firm for a wide variety of work, from 3D design, to multimedia, identity, marketing, architecture, graphic design and engineering design. He has taught design to undergraduates at the School of Architecture, and the College of Computing Science at New Jersey Institute of Technology.

They formed this company in 2006 and have the following advice for prospective social entrepreneurs:

“Follow your passion and align yourself with people who have a similar mission to inspire social change. And Be Persistent!”

If you have any ideas for S2H or would like to help them achieve their mission, you can purchase the S2H REPLAY at www.s2h.com or contact them at [email protected]

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