I’m sad to say that it looks like we may not have time to release another game before the end of the year. Our portion size game, Give & Take looks fabulous, but it still has a lot of bugs. We have two others in the works, V for Vegetable and The Fruit Chute, but they’re even further behind. So expect lots of fun new gameplay after Christmas. A new Playnormous game is always a great edition to a new school year or a great way to combat those back-to-work-blues.
So what is this whole portion size thing? First off, “portion size” is the same thing as “serving size.” We often use these phrases interchangeably, but this gets confusing for some, especially kids, as one of our researcher friends Dr. Debbe Thompson of CNRC pointed out to us on Monday. Portion size and serving size are one in the same.
Ever wonder if eating a cup of chickpeas is the same as eating a cup of snap peas? Whole vegetables come in all sizes…how much is too much? Give & Take gives families the ins and outs of portion sizing for all sorts of vegetables. Try to get the desired portion size on the plate and submit it to the monster chef before time runs out. Pipes from above keep you on your toes as they quickly add and take away quarter cups of vegetables. Better get those serving sizes correct or Chef de Cuisine Monstero will fire you from the kitchen!
For more on portion size, check out these other fun posts from Monster’s Blog!
During our Playnormous meeting this morning we started talking about our fruit juice game, Juice Jumble, and about the never-ending fruit juice controversy. Labels can be so misleading for kids (like drinks that say “contains 100% fruit juice” or “made with 100% fruit juice” but are actually made with mostly sugar and water).
With perfect timing, my ever faithful Advertising Age magazine ran an interesting article about how advertising affects children entitled NIH: Banning Fast Food Ads Will Make Kids Less Fat. In case you missed it, here’s an overall summary:
Want to know more about how media, such as fast food commercials, can affect your child? I’ve posted about this topic before, but I highly recommend also visiting our friend Amy Jussel at Shaping Youth. Read all about how youth is affected by issues like advertising, product placement, consumerism, childhood obesity, and more!
I find it very interesting that, despite a continuing decline in the economy, people are still willing to play top dollar for healthy products. Advertising Age released its special edition this week which honors the top 50 brands of the year. Many are healthy brands (or brands that are trying to obtain a healthier image). Here are some of the top dogs:
Now don’t get your hopes up. Things aren’t all health food and rose-colored tennis shoes. Junk food did very well this year as well.
Congrats to all the successful brands this year…big and thin!
Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and you know what that means: Christmas shopping! Advertisers are already speculating what some of the hottest gifts will be for Christmas 2008, and it’s not surprising that many of these must-haves are for the techie both young and old. Some examples include: Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock Bundle, Amazon’s wireless reading device Kindle, Apple iPod Touch, PlayStation 3 MotorStorm Pack, and Fisher Price Kid-Tough Digital Camera.
My fiance, Brent, was kind enough to give me one of my Christmas gifts a little early, a Wii and a Wii Fit. And lucky me! Nintendo’s President and CEO Reggie Fils-Aime just released a quote that he expects the company will meet consumer demands for the Wii this Christmas season, but knows without a doubt that the Wii Fit will fall short. Expect long lines and angry moms to obtain this fit-for-a family gift.
That got me thinking. What Wii games are out there for those looking for some good ole PA that can’t find the Wii Fit? There are almost no resources that tell the consumer which Wii games are designed to really get your heart rate up. However, a few have been labeled as games that will give you a nice workout:
After looking through all of Nintendo’s offerings, these are some of the Wii games that seem to have good fat burning potential. The jury’s still out as to whether these are hard core healthy or just give you a nice glow.
Has anyone played any of these games? Any comments? Any other Wii games that are full of physical activity that I might have missed?
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill released information yesterday about a study that reveals text messaging may help children fight off obesity. This study is all about self monitoring, a theory that is used by our friends at The Children’s Nutrition Research Center. This particular study used text messaging, a topic that was pretty hot at the Health 2.0 Conference this past month. Here are the details on this interesting UNC study.
CHAPEL HILL – Many children love sending and receiving text messages through their cell phones – sometimes to the great annoyance of their parents.
But now a new study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill suggests this technology could be used to reduce children’s chances of becoming overweight or obese later in life, by helping them monitor and modify their own behaviors now.
Recent studies show that approximately 19 percent of youths aged 6 to 11 are overweight, and that 80 percent of overweight adolescents become obese adults.
“Self-monitoring of calorie intake and expenditure and of body weight is extremely important for the long-term success of weight loss and weight control,” said Jennifer R. Shapiro, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry in the UNC School of Medicine and principal investigator of the new study, which is published in the November/December 2008 issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.
“Unfortunately, both children and adults who are trying to lose weight often do not adhere to self-monitoring,” Shapiro said. “They tend to be good about self-monitoring at the start of a weight-loss effort, but then their adherence drops off over time.”
Traditionally, paper diaries are the tool most often used for self-monitoring. People trying to lose weight write down how many calories they consume, how many calories they burn in exercise and how much they weigh. While a paper diary can be very effective, Shapiro and her colleagues had a hunch that the same concept might work better in children if they could report their self-monitoring via cell phone text messaging – and receive feedback messages in return.
“Cell phone text messaging is something that’s very familiar to most children now, since they’ve grown up with it,” Shapiro said. “By using this technology, we were hoping to make self-monitoring seem more like fun to them and less like work.”
Fifty-eight children aged 5 to 13 and their parents participated in Shapiro’s study, which was conducted at UNC Hospitals, and 31 families completed the study. The families took part in three group education sessions (one session weekly for three weeks) which aimed to encourage them to increase physical activity, decrease “screen time” (time spent watching television) and reduce consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. All of the children were given pedometers to track the number of steps they took each day, as well as goals to meet for the number of steps taken, minutes of screen time and number of sugar-sweetened beverages consumed per day.
The participating families were randomized into three groups: one that reported self-monitoring via cell phone text messaging, another group that reported self-monitoring in a paper diary, and a no-monitoring control group. The text messaging and paper diary groups answered three questions each day: (1) what was the number on your pedometer today?; (2) how many sugar-sweetened beverages did you drink today?; and (3) how many minutes of screen time did you have today?
Each family in the text messaging group was given a cell phone to be used only for study-related messages. They were instructed to send two messages per day (one from the parent and one from the child) reporting their answers to the three questions. Each time a message was sent, the sender received an immediate, automated feedback message based on what the sender reported. The researchers generated hundreds of feedback messages for the study. One example was, “Wow, you met your step and screen time goals – congratulations! What happened to beverages?”
The study results show that children in the text messaging group had a lower attrition rate from the study (28 percent) than both the paper diary (61 percent) and the control group (50 percent). They also had a significantly greater adherence to self-monitoring than the paper diary group, 43 percent versus 19 percent.
The study concludes that cell phone text messaging may be a useful tool for self-monitoring of healthy behaviors in children, and suggests more broadly that novel technologies may play a role in improving health.
In addition to Shapiro, authors of the study are Stephanie Bauer, Ph.D., and Hans Kordy, Ph.D., both from the University of Heidelberg in Germany; and UNC researchers Robert M. Hamer, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and research professor of biostatistics in the School of Medicine; Dianne Ward, Ed.D., professor of nutrition in the Gillings School of Global Public Health; and Cynthia M. Bulik, Ph.D., William R. and Jeanne H. Jordan Distinguished Professor of Eating Disorders in the School of Medicine’s psychiatry department, professor of nutrition in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and director of the UNC Eating Disorders Program.