Yesterday the HMO Kaiser Permanente released an online video game targeting childhood obesity.
It's meant to teach kids more about healthy eating and according to the press release it's aimed at kids between the ages of 9-10.
Here are the main components of the games.
Eats too much - you zap away at portions, with no explanation or instruction as to how to do so without inviting hunger
Not very strong - you add protein sources to an enourmous portion of pasta and 3 large slices of bread.
Too much junk food - you help a kid choose a carrot, a banana juice and water instead of granola bars, fruit roll ups and chocolate bars (yup, that'll happen).
Doesn't exercise enough - you help a kid stop watching TV and go out and play soccer (by himself)
Needs to play more - you help a girl jump rope instead of play with a yoyo (by herself)
Teeth and bones are weak - help a kid to sit down to a glass of juice, a glass of milk, a giant bowl of cereal, a giant hunk of cheese and a yogurt.
Tired all the time - Click a machine that "speeds up" a boy named Matthew's speed doing jumping jacks (in a gym, by himself)
Skips breakfast - Click a stopwatch so the kid stops and eats breakfast (a bowl of cereal or even "just a banana".
This is just more part and parcel of the same old useless messages bundled with little explanation, conflicting portion sizes and non-inspiring depictions (yay, jumping jacks in a gym by myself are fun!).
Do people really think kids don't know that exercise is healthier for them than watching TV? That vegetables are healthier choices than chocolate bars? That breakfast is a healthy start to the day? That doing more exercise is healthier than doing less? That smaller portions lead to smaller waists?
Of course kids know all of these things.
What they need to be taught is not things that they know, but things that they don't know.
Not to beat a dead horse but they need to be taught about caloric intake vs. caloric expenditure, they need to be taught hunger prevention strategies, they need to be taught how to be thoughtful with food rather than blindly and unrealistically restrictive.
If this is cutting edge, the edge is duller than I thought.
You can play the game yourself here and come to your own conclusions.
I give it an F. It doesn't teach kids anything they don't already know and instead gives them a parentally acceptable reason not to turn off the computer.