Stories about: apps for healthy kids

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.

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Vote for Food Hero

As part of her Let’s Move! campaign, Michelle Obama is reaching out to software developers and technology innovators to create engaging games and mobile phone applications that encourage children to take a more proactive role in healthy nutrition and exercise. Ben Reis, PhD, of Children’s Hospital Informatics Program, is leading a team from Children’s determined to answer the first lady’s call, with a new app called Food Hero.

Players choose a character and decide what he or she eats for the day. After their virtual character has eaten, they’re asked to engage in physical activities like biking, running and swimming. If the character eats too much, it becomes slow and sluggish; if it eats too little, it becomes too weak and tired to finish its exercise in time. Only a properly nourished character has the strength and stamina needed to complete the physical challenges in record-breaking time.

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