Back in January I posted about wanting Playnormous to be rated by Common Sense Media, a website dedicated to improving the lives of kids by posting unbiased ratings of websites, games, movies, and tv shows. Well, my wish came true. Not only did we get reviewed, but Playnormous got 4 out of 5 stars! The Hannah Montana game for the DS only got 3 out of 5 stars. You know you’ve arrived if you’re rated higher than Hannah Montana.
So, it’s official. Playnormous is a great place for families and kids. Ideal for 9-year-olds, appropriate for kids aged 7-17+. Check out this awesome excerpt from the review:
“Playnormous does a good job of making an educational and healthy topic cool for kids. Using a hip, no-nonsense tone, the site presents games and health advice in a way that will genuinely appeal to kids so they don’t feel like they are getting a lecture in what not to eat from their parents.”
That’s some great stuff, huh?! Check out Common Sense Media’s review of Playnormous to read this and more amazing comments by Common Sense reviewer Jacqueline Rupp. She especially liked our health game Lunch Crunch. Thanks, Jacqueline, for such a good review!
Continuing on our journey through the topic of BMI, brought to you by Playnormous Health Games, we bring you the history of BMI. The history of BMI is a long and controversial one. The notion of using a formula to calculate obesity was conceived by Belgian statistician Adolphe Quetelet in the 1800s. Adolphe was an insurance man trying to determine factors that related to birth and death, and he determined that focusing on the relationship between weight and height was the way to go. He decided the best way to numerically calculate obesity was to divide a person’s weight by the square of his or her height (that’s w/h^2 for those of you math whizzes). He called this new system the Quetelet Index of Obesity. In 1833 he developed and published a system of height and weight tables for men and women of different ages. Apparently Adolphe’s system really caught on because these height/weight tables were the most widely accepted weight-for-height index in the world and were used until the 1980s.
The idea of “desirable body weights” was born in the U.S. in 1959. These categories were derived from 19 years of mortality statistics collected by 26 insurance companies. These tables were called the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (MLIC) tables. It wasn’t until the 1980s that the Body Mass Index was born. The USDA and US Dept of Health and Human Services joined forces to create the Dietary Guidelines for Americans in 1980. In 1985 BMI became the official international standard for measuring obesity, and the National Institutes of Health dubbed men with a 27.8+ BMI and women with a 27.3+ BMI as “obese.”
For two centuries, this obesity measurement system was “for doctors only.” It was more of a technical thing for clinicians, insurance agents, and other health experts. The U.S. wasn’t even tracking the prevalence of obesity until 1984. However, in 1990, BMI was finally released to the public. Nutrition Monitoring Legislation was passed, and public dietary guidelines were published and promoted by the federal government to encourage healthy eating and exercise. In 1997 the World Health Organization (WHO) refined the indexing system to include very specific BMI categories: underweight, normal weight, overweight, preobese, obese class 1, obese class 2, and extremely obese. But the best was yet to come.
Real drama ensued in 1998. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the NIH lowered the official overweight threshold of BMI 27.8 to 25. This put an additional 30 million Americans in the overweight category. Crummy! In 2000, the “healthy weight” category moved from 19.0-24.9 BMI down to 18.4-24.9. We like our Americans skinny, real skinny. Today, overweight still lands at 25.0 and obese at greater than 30.0.
And there’s so much more.
Remember I said the history of BMI was complicated. I highly recommend reading this amazing American Journal of Clinical Nutrition article “Criteria for definition of overweight in transition: background and recmmendations for the United States,” for even more detailed information about the history of BMI. Learn more than you ever wanted to know, and stay tuned to Monster’s Blog about the controversies that surround BMI.
You heard it folks, we have a new game coming out. And it’s not one I expected. We’ve skipped over Give & Take, V for Vegetable, The Fruit Chute, and Fast Food Fumble to bring you a game that’s all about the USDA Food Pyramid! As many of you know, the USDA changed their Food Guide Pyramid back in 2005, making the whole food group thing a little confusing for some people. We hope that our newest Playnormous health game, Food Pyramid Pile Up, will clarify things. Here’s what we hope our players will learn:
As food tiles travel down the screen, the player must fill the pyramid with foods that belong in each food group. Watch out for things like blueberry muffins, which may contain some blueberries, but only count as part of the grain group, not fruit. There are also foods that will fall into the discretionary calorie category. You’ll learn more about that in the game. There are many ways to fill this puzzle, but the best players will learn how to maximize points by building the healthiest pyramid possible. Oh, and there will be hungry monsters that chomp awat at your pyramid as you build. Sound tricky? Perhaps…but it’s going to be fun!
This post idea has been sitting in my drafts folder for well over two months. It’s a topic I’ve wanted to tackle but haven’t had the time to really dive into. Well I’m home sick today with nothing but me and my stomach meds. So today is the official day…BMI. What is BMI? Who thought of it? Is it really an accurate measure of health? How does it work for kids? I hope to answer some of these big questions for you in my next few post.
Before we start really digging here, some things about BMI you need to know up front:
It’s important to note that BMI calculations are different for children (with children being defined as 2-20 years old). Researchers have created a special set of BMI numbers for this group called BMI-for-age. It takes into account gender, height, age, and weight because kids have different body compositions as they grow and body fat differs between boys and girls. The Mayo Clinic has a great child BMI calculator that you can use. When using this calculator please note that:
Seem a little complex? Many agree, and it get’s a lot more complicated from here on out. What kind of health games site would we be without at least attempting to explain it all? Stay tuned–more to come!
Dr. James Tour, a chemistry, mechanical engineering and computer science professor at Rice University is taking science education to the next level. Dr. Tour is using the power of video games, specifically Guitar Hero and Step Mania, to teach science lessons through music. Funded by the National Science Foundation, “SciRave” and “SciJam” pair science-themed songs these popular music video games to heighten the learning experience. See the media release from the Texas Medical Center for more information or visit the SciRave website to get it straight from the source.
Dr. Tour’s group is looking for teachers to test out the SciRave and SciJam games and so visit the SciRave website to download the games for free. Print out the lyrics, listen to the music, and send them feedback on how your students liked the games.