A health game for mobile devices, called Dining Decisions, was recently launched by Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC). This highly interactive and very informative game presents nutritional information about different foods in an educational manner. It is aimed at kids from the ages 7-12 and for teachers and parents who want to teach their kids about good nutrition.

What Are The Rules?

The food is divided into three categories, “go”, “slow” and “whoa”. “Go” contains foods that are the healthiest including: raw vegetables, fruits, nuts and low fat or skimmed milk. “Slow” category contains foods that don’t hold as much nutritious value as “Go” foods and should not be consumed daily. These include: waffles, hot dogs and pizza. “Whoa” foods provide little to no nutritional value among all the three categories and are often high in sugar, calories and fats. These foods should be saved for special occasions. “Whoa” foods include: French fries, donuts and ice cream.

As the player advances to higher levels, there will be more types of foods to categorize into “Go”, “Whoa” and “Slow” in lesser time. If the game is played more frequently, kids will be able to recognize healthy foods more often and the “Go” or healthiest choice will be chosen each time.

Why Was The Game Developed?

As obesity reaches an all-time high, kids not getting enough exercise and school cafeterias serving unhealthy food have raised a lot of concern for parents and teachers. Kids have always responded well to video games and most of their free time is spent playing video games. So the developers decided to create a game specifically designed to get kids to eat healthy and hopefully put an end to the cataclysm of high obesity rates.

It’s not just obesity that is an issue. Many kids from the ages of 7 to12 are not eating nutritious food which causes them to suffer from hunger pangs. This is due to the fact that low income households feed kids highly processed foods that can be filling but are not nutritious. Low income households don’t have enough resources to provide healthy meals and are generally not well informed regarding nutrition and health risks of an unbalanced diet.

What Health Benefits Do Fruits And Vegetables Provide?

Fruits and vegetables form a vital part of a balanced diet. Nutritionists recommend that half of the plate of food should be made up of fruits and vegetables, and more variety should be added in the type of fruits and vegetables that are consumed, and their method of preparation such as raw, sautéed, and steamed.

Fruits and vegetable help fight many diseases such as blood pressure, cancer, scurvy and atherosclerosis. They are low in fat and calories, are source of many important nutrients and minerals such as vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid and potassium, prevent heart diseases and provide fiber that helps prevent constipation. Diet rich in potassium lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of kidney stones. Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits provides enough folic acid to help the body produce red blood cells. Vitamin A improves eyesight and makes skin healthy. Vitamin C aids in iron absorption in blood and heals skin cuts and bruises and helps form scabs.

Why Is High Fat Food So Unhealthy?

The developers of Dining Decisions developed the game so that kids avoid fattening food. Fattening food isn’t harmful when eaten every once in a while. On the other hand, consuming it frequently can cause very serious health problems. There’s a big reason behind that. Food such as burger, French fries and fried chicken increase the risk of early onset diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases.

These foods contain high level of sodium, trans fats, and high amounts of sugar. A high amount of sodium causes a sodium buildup in the system. This buildup forces the heart and kidneys to work faster and harder, which increases risk for heart and kidney diseases.

The most unhealthy and dangerous ingredient of such foods is trans fat. Trans fats have a high melting point, which makes them harder to break down and dissolve. That’s why trans fats can get stuck in coronary arteries thus greatly increasing the risk of heart attacks, diabetes and strokes.

Excess amounts of sugars in fast food makes the liver work extra in converting glucose into glycogen. This extra workload in turn makes it difficult for the liver to convert the stored glycogen into glucose during high energy situations. It also makes the body resistive to insulin, which greatly increases the risk for diabetes.

Fast food provides no nutritional value despite its high calorie content. Fast food has no minerals or vitamins which are essential for the body and kids who have made fast food a part of their diet feel turned off by regular healthy meals such as salads and fruits and vegetables.

Future Of “Healthy” Games

Dining Decisions is not the first game developed solely for the purpose of promoting good health. TeenBEAT is another game that checks if kids are getting enough exercise or not. “Power up Your Breakfast” is another educational game that teaches kids about healthy breakfast. These games have been proven successful in teaching kids about healthy nutrition and exercise.