Food-Focused Video Games Keep Kids on the Couch

 Voting closes on Saturday at, a competition sponsored by First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign to fight childhood obesity. Professional and amateur web developers have submitted their computer games and mobile phone applications designed to encourage children to "make more nutritious food choices and be more physically active." Only problem is, not very many chose to focus on the most important part of the equation: activity.

Of the 94 applications up for public vote, just 9 actually help kids increase their physical activity – an issue researchers have said is central to the childhood obesity problem. The rest instruct kids to count calories and eat their veggies. Ironically, many of the apps are essentially video games that keep kids sedentary. Seems counterproductive, right?

But perhaps conscientious consumers are becoming aware of the need to get kids moving. The current vote leader is Rhythmatics Kids, described as “Guitar Hero for running.” Users walk, jog, or run in place while listening to music on a mobile phone that has motion-sensing gyroscopic sensors enabled and the program awards points based on the user’s ability to match the beat. It’s fun, it’s intuitive, and it sure beats the apps that demonize individual foods like soda and pizza.

Besides, how young is too young for children to be counting calories and tracking their BMI scores? The only numbers kids should worry about are the ones in their math homework.

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