This is a guest blog post by Ahmed Siddiqui.
Calories, sodium, protein, fat, are all parts of a nutrition label. Although these bits of information are important to understand, very few people actually know how to use these figures to create positive changes in their diet. This is why there are so many programs available like Weight Watchers telling people exactly what to eat.
However, nobody is really touching on the core issues with food today. Processed foods, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial ingredients found in candies, cookies, and sodas are the real causes of obesity in this country. Today’s new parents are of the Oreo generation, growing up thinking that all these processed foods were actually good for them, and passing these bad habits on to their kids.
If we are to start tackling the obesity epidemic in the U.S., children need to build good eating habits early on, and food needs to be explained simply so they can carry on these habits when they are adults.
The Fooducate food grading system is incredibly simple. By just scanning a barcode on food, Fooducate can give a letter grade to it, and then goes on to provide a healthier alternative. It completely takes the guesswork out of learning to eat healthy.
Adults like simplicity. But kids like even more simplicity. Although a grade scale makes sense to older kids, this usually is too late to form good eating habits. Good eating habits need to start as early as 2 years old, but things need to be simplified even more. Food needs to be categorized as either good or bad. Carrots good… Cake bad… This is very simple and highly effective, but instead of just saying it, why not demonstrate it.
My game, Go Go Mongo! available for the iPhone and iPod Touch, is designed for children 2-4 years old and does exactly this. By using fun game elements and funny animations, kids quickly understand what they should or should not eat. In the game, children use the tilt controls to have a chubby orange monster, Mongo, run around and catch food falling from the sky. When Mongo eats a healthy fruit or vegetable, Mongo becomes happy. When Mongo eats a cake, he turns purple and looks sick. After watching this reaction a few times, children get what makes Mongo sick could make them sick too.
When presented with a carrot or a cake, the natural human instinct is to go for the cake because it tastes so good! However, if we help kids understand the effects of bad eating through simple games with a good or bad food response, I feel we can help to reverse childhood obesity.
Nutrition education is great, but for toddlers and kids learning though games is a must and can lead them down the right path. Please join me in fighting the obesity epidemic by simplifying food to something that adults and children can easily understand.
Guest post written by Ahmed Siddiqui, founder of Go Go Mongo! (www.gogomongo.com) a mobile game that inspires children to eat healthier. Go Go Mongo! can be downloaded from the Apple iTunes App Store. He can be contacted through Twitter: @siddiquiahmed