Pokémon Go to Combat Type 2 Diabetes?

Pokémon Go may be just what the doctor ordered to combat increasing global rates of Type 2 diabetes, according to a researcher at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom. Approximately 29 million people in the United States (roughly 9.1% of the population) and 3.1 million people in the United Kingdom (roughly 4.8% of the population) have Type 2 diabetes, with millions more who have prediabetes at increased risk of developing the condition.

The Pokémon Go app, which launches a treasure hunt that allows users to find and interact with virtual monsters in the real world, has taken many countries by storm in recent weeks. According to recent estimates, roughly 9.5 million people in the United States alone are active users. The game requires players to walk to capture and hatch their Pokémon.


Regular physical activity is a cornerstone of both preventing and managing Type 2 diabetes, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. Walking while playing Pokémon Go is one way users can reach this goal. “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,” notes Dr. Tom Yates, Senior Lecturer in Physical Activity, Sedentary Behavior, and Health at the Diabetes Research Centre at the University of Leicester.

Tom Booth, who has social anxiety and rarely leaves the house, says about the game, “I originally thought it was just for kids, but I downloaded it to see what all the fuss was about, and for the first time in years I’ve left the house and walked miles just by following what’s going on in the game. When I get home, I’m exhausted, but it’s actually been great getting out and about and exercising without even realizing that I’m doing it.”

Pokémon Go not your style? Then check out our article on other ways to make exercise more fun, by exercise physiologist and certified diabetes educator Richard Weil.

This blog entry was written by Senior Digital Editor Diane Fennell.