Hungry Hiker food app for kids
We tend to think of apps for kids as the bits of genius that keeps them occupied in the doctor’s waiting room, maybe help them brush up on their 3 R’s. But we’re always looking for ones that get kids smarter about other stuff too. Like, say, food and healthy eating habits.

Turns out, so is Michelle Obama.

As part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! campaign to help take on childhood obesity, nearly 100 software developers, game designers, and super smart college students designed their own desktop apps (or really, websites) as part of an Apps for Healthy Kids challenge. Every one is meant to help get tweens off their patooties and off the Twinkie train.

The winners were announced last night and color me impressed. I’ve rounded up just a few stand-outs here.

The Hungry Hiker
build-a-meal app (shown above) is a clever interactive video and game from the minds
at the Denver Museum of Science. The “hiker” refers to a pyramid (get it?
Like the food pyramid?) that your Jib-Jab style avatar has to
climb after you’ve tried to serve her a healthy meal from a variety of choices. Pick too many grains and not
enough protein like I did, she won’t make it up.What can I say, I like carbs.

Smash Your Food - educational game for kids

Kids will get a kick out of Smash Your Food
on the name alone. You guess how much salt, sugar and oil are in an item then watch a machine smush it (really) into its components to see
if you’re right. Nothing will make you want you want to skip pizza night more.

Trainer fitness app for kids

I’m blown away by the team of USC students who developed Trainer,
which uses interactive technology and your webcam to track your own
training against that of a virtual pet that they pair you with. Think: a
cross between The Sims and a Wii fit. I haven’t tried it myself, but
if it does what it does what it says…whoa.

Pick Chow! kids' nutrition app

Pick Chow!
was the first place winner in the tools category, and we can see why.
The colorful interface lets kids drag and drop various foods to make up a
meal–one they’d like or one they’ve actually had–then tabulate the
total nutritional value. They can even forward it to parents so we can
help them plan their own good meals. Or you know, keep an eye on what they’re eating when we’re not around. Provided kids are being honest with it.

Spend some time with all the entrants and you can really understand why the winners were chosen. They’re smart, accessible, and most importantly, accurate. But I say, hit the Apps for Healthy Kids site and see which work for you and your family. Ideally over something healthy. –Liz

You can find all the winning apps–and the 95 entrants too–at Apps for Healthy Kids

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