This post was written by Sarah Roller and Raqiyyah R. Pippins.

In conjunction with the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” campaign  and related federal regulatory efforts focused on nutrition and marketing to children, the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion is instituting a new program, titled “Innovations for Healthy Kids Challenge,” intended to “motivate the creation of innovative, fun, and engaging applications or games that encourage children, especially “tweens” (aged 9-12), to eat more healthfully and [to] be more physically active.” USDA is seeking public comment on the paperwork and regulatory burdens associated with the program until June 28, 2010.

The purpose of the challenge is to develop new and innovative technology to “not only increase access to socially relevant technologies that seek to improve eating and physical activity behaviors among children, but…also expand the tools available through the MyPyramid Website.” Through this program, USDA encourages developers to use recently released USDA nutrition data, data the USDA has pre-calculated for common portion sizes and portion increments including solid fats, added sugar, and sugar alcohol content, to design games, applications, and other programs aimed at promoting at least one of the following behavioral objectives:

· Teaching kids to eat more whole grain

· Increasing fruit and vegetable consumption

· Focusing on consuming more low-or non-fat milk

· Choosing lean sources of protein (meat and beans)

· Making food group education fun

· Understanding calories and energy balance

· Increasing choices of foods with high nutrition value and decreasing amounts of foods with solid (saturated) fats and added sugars (i.e., “extra” calories), and decreasing amounts of sodium

· Identifying and consuming proper food portion sizes

· Being more physically active

· Balancing physical activity and food intake.

More information on the program can be found at http://www.appsforkids.com.