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‘Smash Your Food’ and Other Apps Top Competition

In “Food Buster,” players try to stack as much food as they can without breaking a virtual scale and learn that the fewer the calories, the greater their chance of success.  If they bust the scale, well, they lose–not weight, of course, but the game.

“Tony’s Plate Calculator,” originally created for a teenager with diabetes, helps users figure out the nutritional value of single food items, recipes or a day’s worth of meals.

Both were selected by acclaim for “Popular Choice” awards in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion “Apps for Healthy Kids” competition.

USDA officials screened entries and then accepted 95 submissions of games or apps from students, software developers, designers, and organizations as part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” initiative to end childhood obesity by encouraging healthy eating and physical activity.

More than 20,000 votes were cast online to pick the popular-choice winners, while a panel of 14 judges, including Apple Computer co-founder Steve Wozniak, School Nutrition Association president Dora Rivas, and Zynga Game Network CEO Mark Pincus, named the other winners based on creativity, originality and potential to impact, engage and motivate the target audience.

All 12 winners were announced Wednesday by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra, and Robin Schepper, executive director of “Let’s Move!.” The winners were recognized during a White House ceremony and will share the $60,000 prize pool, which included funding from General Electric for the GE healthyimagination Students Awards.

The grand prize winners and GE winners each received $10,000, runners up and popular choice winners got $4,500 while honorable mention prizes were $1,000.

Students from the University of Southern California built “Trainer,” an interactive webcam game that challenges kids to work out along with digital creatures.   Team Trainer won the GE healthyimagination Student Award as well as the Grand Prize in overall standing.

In “Food Hero,” developed by Children’s Hospital in Boston, players choose an avatar and daily meals.   “Hungry Hiker,” a web application by the Denver Museum of Nature and Science,” involves selecting healthy food to get a hiker to the summit.

“Papaya Head” is a family meal-planning site and “Smash Your Food”  lets kids have the satisfying experience of seeing and hearing milkshakes and other food explode, then helps determine how much sugar and salt the food contains.  “Snack Neutralizer” is an app that shows how much exercise is necessary to work off certain foods–for instance, 2,600 sit ups to offset a candy bar.

To see all the winners and competitors go to the Apps and Winners list on the Apps for Healthy Kids website.

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