Video Games Fights Childhood Obesity

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From Your Health Journal…..”Today’s review is from The Sentinel about a 21 year old who had a great idea about how to combat childhood obesity. The author, Jessica D’Amico did a wonderful job with the story, and I recommend all of you visiting The Sentinel site (link provided below) to read the complete story. Dennis Ai learned from experience what it takes to fight childhood obesity, as he went through it himself. He admitted he had a horrible diet growing up, talked about being the ‘fattest’ kid in his class, along with being picked last for PE when teams were needed. Dennis decided it was time for a change. He began running home from school and even joined the track team. Now, a student in college, he is fit, but finds himself playing a lot of video games. As a computer science major, it dawned on Dennis that if he could create a video game that engaged kids in seeking out healthier foods, it could help to chip away at the obesity epidemic. Please visit The Sentinel site to read the complete article.”

From the article…..

Student’s idea makes it to national contest’s semifinals; votes needed to bring virtual world to life

If it seems that 21-year-old Edison resident Dennis Ai has a good handle on what it takes to help combat the national issue of obesity among kids, it’s because he learned from experience.

“I actually went through childhood obesity myself,” he said, recalling his formative years. “I would eat like 20 potato skins a night. I had a pretty terrible diet. By the time I was in fourth grade, I was the fattest kid in my class.”

With that unhappy distinction came negative peer experiences, such as being chosen last for teams in gym class, and getting picked on by other kids.

“When you add it all up, it really hurts, especially as a kid,” he said.

One day, Ai decided it was time for a change. He started off by running home from school every day. Eventually, he joined the track team. By eighth grade, he was also a member of the crosscountry, tennis and swim teams at John Adams Middle School, and was able to leave behind the days of excess weight and poor health habits.

Fast forward to the present, with a fit and healthy Ai studying computer science and economics at Northwestern University in Illinois. While on break last summer, he found himself taking to video games, playing Diablo 3 constantly.

“I was sitting there playing this for eight hours a day, and I was addicted to it,” he said.

Although some may have seen Ai’s gaming as a waste of time, that ended up being far from the case. Instead, an idea was born.

It dawned on Ai that if he could create a video game that engaged kids in seeking out healthier foods, it could help to chip away at the obesity epidemic.

“Kids especially love games, because they can project themselves into the story,” he said.

After speaking with various experts on the subject and conducting research on behavior change techniques, he began assembling a team to make the health-promoting game a reality.

Always one to think big, Ai founded a company called JiveHealth, with the goal of creating a multitude of games that would meet the company’s mission of halving the number of children who are overweight or obese by 2016.

His team consists of Tom Denison, vice president of marketing and business development; Nathan Wangler, game designer; Hailey Schmidt, game artist; and Chris Yenko, software engineer. Along with running the show, Ai is the programmer for the yet-to-be-named game.

To read the full story…..Click here

Loyola Nursing Student Fights Childhood Obesity

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From Your Health Journal…..”Found a great article today on about some local nursing students fighting childhood obesity in Louisiana. Through the years, I have heard so much about childhood obesity (and obesity in general) being a large issue in this state, as so many children have been suffering not only from obesity, but from heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Nursing students from Loyola University received a $4,000 grant, which will be used to educate some local high school students on healthy lifestyle. Please visit the Tangilena web site (link provided below) to read the complete article. It is a great story of children (or young adults) helping other children.”

From the article…..

One nurse is setting out to change the way health care providers in New Orleans talk to patients—inspiring instead of mandating healthier lifestyles to curb childhood obesity. Loyola University New Orleans Doctor of Nursing Practice student Monica Alleman won a $4,000 grant Jan. 1 from the American Nurse Practitioner Foundation to teach health care providers at John Ehret High School health center in Marrero, La., counseling skills to help reduce the causes and effects of childhood obesity at a local level. The idea was born from Alleman’s capstone project as a part of the Loyola DNP program.

Louisiana is the ideal testing ground for solutions to the childhood obesity epidemic, according to Alleman. Louisiana has the fourth-highest statistics for childhood obesity rates in the nation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reports.

“Monica’s passion for children and fighting obesity is contagious,” said Gwen George, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, assistant professor and DNP program coordinator.

The project focuses on the idea that when health care providers speak to patients in ways that illicit the patients’ own solutions versus commanding solutions, it results in healthier patients. The technique is called motivational interviewing skills—borrowed from counseling practices—and Alleman is teaching health care professionals at John Ehret High School how to use it.

“We can more effectively engage patients in healthy living and I believe it’s by us the providers changing how we communicate with our patients,” Alleman said. “Research shows the more patients talk about their own change, the more likely they are going to start to try to change.”

Using motivational interviewing techniques, a conversation with the nurse may include phrases like, “What kinds of things worked for you in the past?” and “How can you make that change in your life?” That kind of conversation in the clinic avoids guilt, shame and judgment surrounding what is childhood obesity, according to Alleman.

“Loyola University New Orleans DNP students are educated to embrace such research-supported interventions in behavioral health to improve the outcomes in health care delivery systems, thereby accelerating quality, reducing costs and increasing appropriate access,” said Ann H. Cary, Ph.D., MPH, RN, professor and director of the School of Nursing.

To read the full article…..Click here