Wednesday, July 11, 2012 by Lee Mannering
USDA developing app for parents to help kids eat their vegetables
According to the July issue of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research magazine, scientists with the agency’s Children’s Nutrition Research Center (CNRC) are working on a fun science- based video game that gives parents of preschoolers a quick, easy way to learn some of the best approaches for getting their kids to eat more vegetables.
Titled “Kiddio: Food Fight!” the game will offer users a series of short, interactive episodes that they can play on their smart phone. Each episode will give users several choices of what to do to improve Kiddio’s (the game’s character) eating behaviors. For example, after deciding whether to offer Kiddio a serving of broccoli, carrots, corn, or peas, players next select what to say to him to increase the chances that he will at least taste the vegetable.
Parents will also be able to customize the game so that Kiddio’s temperament matches that of their child. ARS researchers note “that way, what parents learn can help them reshape their own child’s eating habits… Each of the options is based on a parenting practice that we’ve studied in our research… By working their way through the various options, parents can learn which tactics succeed.”
To get more details about this project, visit the ARS website.
I think it’s an interesting twist to develop an app to help parents figure out ways to get their children to eat their vegetables. As I’ve mentioned before, my daughter can run very hot and very cold when it comes to produce. Right now, she’s in a stage where she’d rather have fruit than vegetables, and efforts to try to either hide or present veggies in a different form (i.e. in a smoothie or homemade frozen popsicle) haven’t worked out. After sampling the frozen treat myself, let’s say we’re still working on the flavor side of the equation.
On a related note, a number of PMA members have kids- themed produce items and we’ll be spotlighting some of those at the “Just 4 Kids” Showcase at Fresh Summit 2012 in Anaheim, California. Visit the PMA website for more specifics if you’re interested in participating.
In the meantime, let us know what you think about the ARS project and how it could affect consumption in the Increasing Consumption Community on PMA Xchange.