Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Serious Games Inspiring People To Live Healthier Lives

Serious Games helping children develop healthy habits

Via: Serious Games Source - Serious Game Launched To Combat Childhood Obesity

A new online game aims to combat growing rates of childhood obesity by teaching kids about the importance of nutrition and exercise.

The Incredible Adventures of the Amazing Food Detective, designed by U.S. health care provider Kaiser Permanente, offers "case files" of children with poor eating or exercise habits, and asks players to come up with solutions to help them lead healthier lives.

Players follow the routines of eight culturally diverse children whose activities or conditions would benefit from healthy food and exercise choices.

The cases are presented by a distinctly Carmen Sandiego-esque character, and after successfully closing a case, the player can try his hand at mini-games such as Whack-A-Snack, Dodge the Junk and Hyper Typer.

The goal is to do everything we can to fight childhood obesity," said Brian Harper of Kaiser Permanente. "We want to motivate and inspire people to live healthier lives." Along with its gameplay, The Amazing Food Detective also features pop-up windows with additional information on healthy eating habits.
Practice What You Preach (and avoid becoming overly sedentary during the game)

As I closed my first case and decided to trigger a second one, I soon realized that the game features an automated shutdown after 20 minutes of play. The game becomes inaccessible for 60 minutes, telling kids (and myself) to go outside and get some exercise instead.

About Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is an integrated managed care organization, based in Oakland, California, founded in 1945 by industrialist Henry J. Kaiser and physician Sidney R. Garfield.

Kaiser Permanente is a consortium of three distinct groups of entities: the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. and its regional operating organizations, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, and the Permanente Medical Groups.

As of 2006, Kaiser Permanente operates in nine states and Washington, D.C., and is the largest managed care organization in the United States.

Kaiser Permanente has 8.5 million health plan members, 148,884 employees, 12,879 physicians, 37 medical centers, 400 medical offices, and $31.1 billion in annual operating revenues. The Health Plan and Hospitals operate under state and federal not-for-profit tax status, while the Medical Groups operate as for-profit partnerships or professional corporations in their respective regions

The game, designed by the company's health professionals, is aimed at children ages 9 to 10, and Kaiser Permanente says it's part of a clinical initiative to combat childhood obesity.

Kaiser Permanente cites figures that show the rate of childhood obesity in the United States has tripled in the last 15 years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 9 million children in the United States are overweight or obese. Research shows that nearly 7 million of those children will grow up to be overweight or obese adults.

Kaiser Permanente has joined forces with Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company, to distribute supplementary educational materials that meet national standards along with CDs of the game to more than 5,000 public schools nationwide this month. The materials include a teaching guide with engaging lessons and activities as well as a colorful wall poster with a full month of healthy ideas for the classroom. Family fun pages reinforce the healthy choice messages being taught in the classroom and include healthy tips and resources for families and a family profile chart to help families set health goals for themselves and their children.

“Helping children learn and grow includes helping them have a healthy foundation for learning,” stated Shelley White, editorial director of Scholastic.
“The game builds on our Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) approach to obesity and chronic health conditions," added Ray Baxter, senior vice president for Community Benefit at Kaiser Permanente. "HEAL takes childhood health beyond the doctor's office by surrounding kids with healthy messages and opportunities to make healthier choices at every touch point of their lives: schools, families, communities, online, grocery stores and beyond.”