The Department of Health and Human Services awarded a grant of over $740,000 to a company to develop a video game intended to train mothers of preschoolers how to get their kids to eat vegetables. Seriously.
Most moms are aware that vegetables are a healthy option at the dinner table, but try and sell that to your kid when there’s a steaming plate of broccoli blocking his view of the french fries. Including vegetables in a balanced diet can go a long way toward establishing healthy eating habits — and avoiding childhood obesity — but it’s not always an easy task to get kids to eat. Apparently our government thinks that the only way we can “learn” how to get our kids to eat vegetables is by playing a video game.
The video game is called “Kiddio: Food Fight — Training Vegetable Parenting Practices” and it’s developed by Archimage, Inc., out of Houston, Texas. A major focus of the project is the fight against childhood obesity. “One of the problems is that parents may want the kids to eat better — fruits and veggies — but lack the understanding of how to do that,” shares Archimage president Richard Buday in an interview with CNSNews.com. “What we’re trying to do is get to parents — in a medium that they enjoy and look forward to receiving information through — but in a non-didactic way.” So moms don’t need lessons, they need video games. Like we have time for that?
When I was growing up, moms generally cooked vegetables until they were limp. Broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower or green beans — who knew? They all had the same texture and mushiness. Our generation has so many fresh vegetables from all over the world available at the neighborhood grocery store. So while we may have despised the mushy boiled brussels sprouts of our childhood, if you toss them in olive oil and garlic and roast them, they are delish. But some vegetables do have an acquired taste to them. Seriously, who loves broccoli at first taste?
The whole idea of healthy eating needs to start when your kids are young. You might have to introduce some veggies (and other foods) many, many times before your kiddo actually likes them. I still put a bowl of baby carrots on the dinner table any night we don’t have a true veggie serving, just because I know they are healthy for my kids — and if they are on the table? Someone may eat one. That’s a mom win.
But a video game? “The genre of games that we research and develop are called ‘Serious Video Games,'” says Buday. “It’s a game to teach to mothers of preschool age kids how to get their children to eat vegetables.” In the game, the player becomes the mom. “You are the mother of a family and you have a child who hates veggies,” he shares. “We have a series of situations and environments where eating occasions occur.”
Um, so you mean like real life? Where you could be offering vegetables? Players can choose their difficulty level, parenting style (hello, helicopter parenting?) and strategies to ensure that their child might possibly taste a vegetable. Taste.
“We think the ability to drill and simulate in an immersive and entertaining way — in this case food parenting practices — is a much better way to change behavior rather than to giving somebody a bunch of facts and hope they incorporate them and use them to change what they think and what they do,” says Buday.
Pretty sure we used to call that “dinnertime.”