Food Hero honored in Washington DC

A few months ago we wrote about Food Hero, a video game designed by Children’s researchers that teaches kids about the importance of proper nutrition and exercise. We asked Thrive readers to cast a ballot for the game, which was part of a national competition initiated by the White House. As it turns out, your voices were heard and Food Hero won!  Here,  Ben Reis, PhD, director of the Predictive Medicine Group and the HealthySocial project at the Children’s Hospital Informatics Program talks about the game’s success.

“Food Hero” on display in the White House auditorium

Children’s Hospital Boston treats many of the serious health issues that can arise from childhood obesity. In addition to treatment, we’re also deeply committed to improving prevention efforts and helping kids avoid obesity-causing behaviors before they start. Recently, we had an opportunity to do just that as part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative. The Apps for Healthy Kids competition challenged programmers and software designers to create online apps that teach kids about proper nutrition and encourage them to lead healthier, more active lifestyles.

This was exciting news for Children’s HealthySocial project, a team of scientists, physicians, artists and technology developers united around the vision of using social networks to promote and spread positive health behaviors and attitudes.  We began work on “Food Hero”, a game that engages and rewards kids for helping their character eat right and exercise.

A few months later we were surprised to hear that the game had received one of the prizes in the competition, and members of the team were invited to DC to receive an award.

The day of the awards ceremony started early with a tour of the White House, followed by presentations by the Secretaries of Health and Agriculture and the White House CTO.

At the White House awards ceremony (R-L): Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Ben Reis of Children’s Hospital, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vislack, and White House Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra

At the ceremony  we were pleased by the enthusiastic reception that Children’s Hospital received from everyone we met. It was yet another reminder of how privileged we all are to work in such a great institution dedicated to children’s health.

Watch a demo of the game bellow, or play it yourself by clicking here.