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Apps for Healthy Kids: Bridging the Nutrition Gap with Innovative Tech Tools

When it comes to kids, what’s not to love about technology?

Wait, that was a rhetorical question.

Sure, there’s the hours of inactivity, the distractions of texting, the exposure to negative content…but there’s also the powerful way it exposes kids to positive messages in fun, innovative ways.

That’s the thinking behind the initiative from the First Lady and the USDA. They are inspiring developers to make games and apps that are truly useful (and truly cool) when it comes to health, and kids are getting the benefit.

Apps for Healthy Kids is part of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign. The goal of Let’s Move! is to make a dent in the startling obesity rates of today’s kids – rates that have tripled in the past 30 years and are threatening the latest generation’s health and longevity.  The Apps for Healthy Kids competition hits kids where they live – smack dab in the world of phone apps and computer games. By creating apps and tools, developers and aspiring developers from all around the country are delivering the major concepts of health in a way that’s tech- fabulous.

It’s been called a “web-based intervention” – inspiring behavioral change through interactive content and social media. Submissions must incorporate certain concepts that will further this entertaining education, including things like increasing fruit and vegetable consumption, making food group education fun, and understanding calories. Through these colorful, whiz-bang, superfast tools and games, the message of health is expected to reach the ears of those who need to hear it.

Lots of people with a penchant for creating interactive tools (and a passion for health and nutrition) have gotten their game on. It’s worth it: there’s a $10,000 prize in it for the grand prize winners in both the Tools and Apps categories, and other cash prizes for honorable mentions and most popular, and some specifically for students. Judges are experts in the software and gaming fields, and winners get a trip to the White House as well!

The submission deadline has passed, but voting is in full swing until August 14th, so even if your app isn’t in the running, voting for your favorite is just as much fun. Simply browse through the robust selection of submissions, and cast your vote while the competition is hot.

Here are some apps and tools in competition that we think sound particularly downloadable:

“Habit Changer”

This tool makes you aware of your daily habits and guides you through change. It gives you experiences – your choice of email, web, or text – that lead you through the skills you need to solve the issues you face (like changing eating habits or incorporating good food and activity).

“Chef Solus”

This talking food label game brings the food label to life for kids. Kids scroll over different parts of the food label while Chef Solus talks (along with written text) to teach them how each part of the food label helps them make healthier choices.

“Smash Your Food™”

A realistic and surprising guessing game that lets children see and hear foods like a milkshake, or a burger, explode – while learning how much sugar, salt and oil their favorite foods are hiding.

“Work It Off!”

This mobile application for Android phones teaches children the correlation between the calories they eat and the calories they burn. The user verbally speaks a food name into the phone and is given options to “work it off”.

“Lunch Line”

This game mimics a real-life school lunch-line with a fast pace, categorized layout, and dozens of food choices, empowering children to increase their nutritional savvy as they play. Kids ultimately learn to choose foods quickly and intelligently and apply their knowledge to their daily life.

“Revolting Vegetables”

In this veggies-attack-themed game, episode 1 features The Uneatables: The villianous mobster, Al Capoche, has caused the farmers’ vegetables to come to life.  Now Capoche and his vegetable mob threaten to overrun the whole town.

“Balanced Meal”

In this app, kids enter information like age and gender, and then drag food around to put it on the scale and then see if you have the right amount of calories for the day, creating a great way to visualize a “balanced” meal.

Go ahead – embrace technology for health’s sake! Check out the apps, view the video, vote and show support at Apps for Healthy Kids.

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