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Healthy LIFestyle for low liTerate teenagers

How to promote a sustainable healthy lifestyle among low-literate teenagers in practical education using accessible and engaging technologies such as games? Wageningen University & Research, Utrecht University, Eindhoven University of Technology and some 20 social partners are pulling together in this.

About 7.2% of young people in the Netherlands have a mild intellectual disability (IQ 50-70). They struggle with learning difficulties and often grow up in a low socio-economic environment. Making healthy choices is therefore extra challenging, while health problems in this group are increasing.

With this project, the research team wants to contribute to a healthy future for these young people and their social environment. By effectively using innovative health technology that matches the needs, wishes and experiences of these young people.

Living labs

The team is setting up four living labs around four practical schools. Here, participatory research will take place with and for practical school pupils, together with teachers, carers, designers, policymakers and researchers. They will focus on two pillars:

  • How can we best involve these young people and their parents?
  • Which technologies help them make healthy choices? Think, for example, of health apps that provide personalised feedback in the form of a game.

The combination of participatory research and hard technologies is unique and crucial, according to the project team. This group of young people often falls by the wayside, because mainstream (school) provision does not match their needs. With more insight into their living environment and motivations, the team can develop effective solutions.


To enable co-creation of technological innovation, knowledge, social and industrial partners pull together. The core academic partners consist of a multidisciplinary research team with experts from Eindhoven Technical University, Wageningen University & Research, Utrecht University and Utrecht University Medical Centre. They contribute knowledge on participatory research, behavior, nutrition and technologies.

Societal and industrial partners bring practical experience and technical expertise. Involved include four practical schools, the Sectorraad praktijkonderwijs, Stichting Special Heroes Nederland, NOC*NSF, Kenniscentrum Sport & Bewegen, InnoSportLab Sport & Beweeg, Trimbos Institute, Voedingscentrum, Aptus, Dutch Rose Media BV, GGD Gelderland Zuid and GGD regio Utrecht.

Knowledge and innovation agenda

With this research, the Institute 4 Preventive Health is contributing to the Knowledge and Innovation Agenda (KIA) Health and Care. The mission from which this call stems has two goals for 2040. The first goal is that all Dutch people live at least five years longer in good health. The second goal is that the health disparities between the lowest and highest socio-economic groups are reduced by 30%.

March 2023 the project was awarded 1.4 million euros from NWO-KIC. The partners in this project account for the remaining 0.3 million euros. The project will run from September 2023 to September 2028.