Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all just eat whatever we wanted, in whatever quantities we wanted, and maintain a healthy weight? It’s a dream… but (at least for the moment) there’s very little chance it will come true.
When it comes to obesity, Maryland falls in the middle of the pack — 26th out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia according to the recent report from the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In all, more than one-quarter of all Maryland adults are obese (26.6%) along with 13.6% of children.
According to Jeffrey Levi, PhD, Executive Director of TFAH:
Obesity is one of the biggest public health challenges the country has ever faced, and troubling disparities exist based on race, ethnicity, region and income.
It’s a challenge the Frederick County Health Department is also taking to heart. About 12% of all children in Frederick County are obese, which is lower than the statewide average, but certainly still too high (Source: 2007 Frederick County Community Health Assessment).
Think about how hard it is for you and me (or just adults in general) to eat right — even when we know what’s good and what’s bad for us. Now try to rewind back to childhood, when you didn’t necessarily know a great deal about nutrition (and probably didn’t care very much thanks to a revved up metabolism). Think about all of the advertising for delicious (and salty, fatty, high-calorie, etc.) foods and beverages surrounding you. It’s hard to blame kids for picking what tastes good. It’s what we would do, too, given the chance.
So how do we teach kids about nutrition (and not put them to sleep)? The Frederick County Health Department has partnered with the St. Mary’s County Health Department, the Frederick County Child Health Partnership and the University of Baltimore to develop a video game to teach kids about healthy eating habits and physical activity. It’s called OtterChomp (use the link to try out the game), and features a main character named Opie the Otter who swims through “a stream of food choices, some healthier than others.”
Dr. Jacqueline Dougé, Frederick County Deputy Health Officer and Pediatrician says
Opie is a fun and cute character to teach kids about healthy choices. Otters eat healthy and exercise and those are the habits we want our kids to adopt.
OtterChomp has been entered into the Apps for Healthy Kids competition — part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign to end childhood obesity within a generation. Voting is already underway! If you try out OtterChomp and like what you see, you can register and vote for it on the Apps for Healthy Kids website — OtterChomp is in the My Pyramid category!