*Jameson is a guest blogger for Food+Tech Connect and a middle school student at Sts. Philip and James School in Long Island, NY.*
One in three Americans suffer from obesity.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is trying to fix this large problem through various actions, such as last years Apps for Healthy Kids, a competition to create an application or tool that would help promote better nutrition for children between the ages of 9-12. Apps for Healthy Kids is part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Lets Move! campaign, created to help end obesity in the United States. The administration is using this generation’s interest in technology to help them and their parents make healthier food choices. USDA Director of Web Communications Amanda Eamich, who I had a chance to speak with, sees the contest as a success due to the excitement and number of apps contributed to the contest.
Approximately 160 apps were entered into the contest, each of which aimed to promote things such as physical activity, increasing food choices with foods high in nutrients, as well as making food education fun and informative. Contestants were judged on criteria such as the potential impact the app would have on the target audience, originality, and creativity. Judges also considered if the apps could be used long into the future, which could have a huge impact on the way children view and understand nutrition. On September 29, 2010, there was a ceremony held at which the winners demonstrated their creations. Prizes included $10,000 for both the first prize and GE Healthy Imagination Student Award winners, $4,500 for the runner up and popular choice winner, and public acknowledgement for the winner of the Corporate Recognition Award.
One of my favorite apps from the competition is I Deserve, a tool for the iPhone that helps kids plan out what they eat for the day, as well as various activities and the amount of exercise in which they performed throughout the day. It is a great tool to help kids fulfill their wholesome goals for the day. Another interesting app is Shop Healthy!, a tool for parents to help them make their food shopping easier, by giving them an easy way to look at how good or bad a food is. The app also includes helpful advice from Dr. Melina Jampolis, a doctor that is an expert on nutrition. I liked this app because it is very informative and easy to use. I think this app could easily change the way people look at the food they consume.
I had a chance to speak with USDA Director of Web Communications Amanda Eamich. Amanda answered questions that gave me useful information about the contest. Here is asummary of the points we spoke about:
Amanda informed me of some of her favorite apps, such as:
The apps developed for the Apps for Healthy Kids Contest will drastically change the way young people look and feel about their food, by giving them an easy and fun way to learn about the food they eat, and their exercise they perform.