The USDA Announces Winners of the Apps for Healthy Kids Competition

The USDA has announced the winners last week of its Apps for Healthy Kids competition.

The competition was a part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! national campaign to end childhood obesity within a generation. The competition invited software developers and game designers to build innovative tools to help teach nutrition and health concepts in an engaging way and to encourage kids to eat better and engage in more physical activity.

11 apps were selected out of 94 submissions, with over 20,000 votes cast to choose the Popular Choice winner. In addition to this award, other winners were selected by a panel of judges that included top industry experts, such as Apple co-Founder Steve Wozniak. The judges determined the winners based on five main criteria, including potential to impact the target audience, potential to engage and motivate target audience, and creativity and originality.

"Citizen solvers like those in the teams being honored today are at the heart of the Obama Administration's commitment to increase the use of prizes and challenges to solve tough problems," says U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra. "It is because we know there are countless other Americans like them across the country whose ingenuity might otherwise be overlooked that the ObamaAdministration's Strategy for American Innovation specifically calls on Federal agencies to use prizes to tap our nation's top talent and best ideas, wherever they may lie."

College students from the University of Southern California built Trainer, a game that challenges kids to strengthen their creature by training alongside it in the real world. This app won both the student and Grand Prize award.

Another winning student design, Work It Off prototype will take nutritional information and physical activity to mobile devices and encourage healthy competition among friends. Developed by Trinity College students, the app uses voice recognition to easily translate food choices to recommended exercises.

Tony's Plate Calculator the winner of the Popular Choice Award in the "Tool" category. This is a free online tool for anyone seeking nutritional analyses of the food they eat. Food Buster won the Popular Choice Award in the "Game" category, with a game that challenges players to carefully stack food items that don't break the scale, based on calories, sugar and saturated fat.

Corporate recognition awards went to innovative designs of Food Hero by Children's Hospital Boston and Hungry Hiker Build-A-Meal by the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. In Food Hero, players can choose an avatar and choose meals throughout the day that fuel physical activity. Hungry Hiker challenges players to make a balanced plate to get their buddy to the summit.

The tools and games are designed for home and classroom use and are available free online.