Childhood obesity is a growing threat to kids’ health and poses a significant risk for chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and stroke later in life. The alarming rise in the incidence of childhood obesity is blamed on overconsumption, poor dietary habits and a lack of exercise. The blame often extends to too much “screen time” on television, computers and video games. Perhaps that is why a group of digital media students in Canada decided to target gaming as a possible way to reach kids with information about healthier eating choices.
This week on Microsoft Health Tech Today, you’ll meet one of the enthusiastic students behind Nom Nom Rider—a game developed for Windows Phone 7 that coincidentally has become one of the most down loaded games on Windows Marketplace. Jennifer Dowding is a digital media masters student at the Centre for Digital Media in Vancouver, B.C. She and her fellow students were able to develop Nom Nom Rider in a matter of weeks. The game has proven to be popular with kids of all ages, some of whom may not even realize they are learning about good dietary habits as they play the game. Patterned a bit after popular games like Guitar Hero, Nom Nom navigates his way across a moving beltway of foods. Grab too much cake and candy, and Nom Nom grows more rotund. Pick the right foods to earn points and win the game while Nom Nom stays in tip-top shape.
Dieticians and other experts were at first skeptical that a game like Nom Nom Rider would catch on so quickly with kids. Now it seems, the kids can’t stop playing. And since its all done on a mobile device, maybe the kids can keep moving as they learn about better choices in what to eat.
This episode of Microsoft Health Tech Today will premier on Tuesday, January 11th at 9 AM Pacific. Here is a sneak peek.
Special thanks to Glenn Berg of Microsoft Canada for bringing this terrific story to our attention. Remember to watch Microsoft Health Tech Today each week for a new program at the intersection of health and information technology.
Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft