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A video game that puts kids on a diet

Doctors develop an application so that the children of the house learn to eat while they play

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Childhood obesity threatens to become one of the health problems of the coming decades. Children are increasingly turning to junk food and a sedentary diet that is often driven by new technologies. Added to this is the fact that television bombards households with ads of very appetizing products, but high in sugar, fats or other ingredients that make them bad for health.

This epidemic causes that the children of the house are at greater risk to suffer diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, asthma, joint problems, among others. The pediatrician is usually the first specialist to realize the problem and the one who has the key to guide him. In addition, new technologies can also educate in healthy habits and encourage physical exercise. How? The answer is Moving Star, a mobile application that helps children learn to eat while they are playing.

Developed by Dr. Inés Mulero and Rosario Bachiller, and the head of the Endocrinology and Nutrition Service of the Hospital Clínico de Valladolid, Daniel de Luis, this nutritional education tool tries to checkmate childhood obesity. “It is very simple and allows daily control of food and physical exercise that the child does,” explains De Luis.
The first step is the register in which you have to include a series of data such as name, age, weight and height (size). He also asks about what he has done during the day and what he has eaten. Once access is allowed, the child encounters two different sets. On the one hand, an astronaut who picks up healthy food and dodges those that are harmful to health. As he captures “the good guys in the movie,” he gets lives,

The other is based on physical activity. He travels on a space rocket and dodging meteorites and when he gets to the stars there are questions like: ‘Which dish has more calories? One serving of pizza, six croquettes, one serving of potato omelette or five ’empanadillas’; ‘How have you consumed more energy? Climbing stairs, sweeping, making the bed or sitting on the couch watching TV ‘; Or ‘What is the healthiest food? A hamburger or a salad ‘. “As the answers are correct, you get more lives and more points and you get motivated because you go up as well as you learn that the food that comes out in TV advertising is not as healthy as you want us to believe,” says the boss. Of Endocrinology and Nutrition Service of the Hospital Clínico de Valladolid.

The application is part of the doctoral thesis of Inés Mulero, pediatric endocrinologist at the Hospital Río Hortega in Valladolid, where they want to validate the scientific method. He is currently in the recruitment phase. Some kids will follow only dietary recommendations, and another group will support these tips with this free app available for both iOS and Android. “There are no official data yet, but all the families that have downloaded it are delighted,” says Daniel de Luis. The final objective is to see if with this video game is achieved that children adhere more to the diet.

The main advantage, in his opinion, is that healthy Milagro Pastillas messages are introduced while having fun, which is “very positive” and helps prevent this scourge. He insists that it is important to weigh yourself every day and keep a diary in which you note both the exercise of the day and the food you have eaten. “All this is done before I start playing,” he says.

Apart from serving the doctor to control, the mobile application makes it possible to know how many kilocalories (energy) are consumed. They also resolve nutritional doubts and earn lives.
According to the Aladino study, the prevalence of overweight among Spanish children is 25% and obesity is 18%. Compared to the results of the previous work, there was a “little improvement”. In the words of Daniel de Luis is a “positive”, but “do not let your guard down”. And is that the problems of excess of weight affect 43% of the children between 7 and 8 years. “A terrible problem, the most serious consequence of which is diabetes. Now we are 14-year-olds with this disease caused by obesity, “he says.

In this sense, it points out that there is a difference “very curious” according to sex: “The results show that although there is a similar prevalence in overweight, child obesity is higher in children than in girls”, he emphasizes.
The conclusions of this study indicate that some risk factors associated with this disease are: watching television more than two hours a day, sleeping less than eight hours, not having breakfast, low income parents, spending many hours in front of the computer And the low educational level of families.

Moving Star is an application that has already been presented at the Colegio Apostolado del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús in Valladolid. In fact, the head of the Endocrinology and Nutrition Service of the Hospital Clínico hopes that it can be made known in other educational centers. “We can not afford to be obese and this app educates at the same time that the child has fun.”