Published: 06th March 2021
Chennai-based company launches app to educate children on healthy food choices
Research that went into making the app showed that just 20 minutes of gaming time a week had a strong positive impact on children's food choices
With rising numbers of obese and overweight children becoming a concern in India, a Chennai-based company has launched a pediatric dietary mobile game app to educate children on healthy food choices. "We have been working on this mobile application for the past 11 years. We decided to engage children in a fun manner in this important topic," said Bhargav Shri Prakash, founder of FriendsLearn, which has developed the mobile app.
The company which has an R&D office in San Francisco recently reported results from a trial that showed that its fooya! app was able to induce healthy food and lifestyle habits among a group of 104 children aged 10 to 11. Shri Prakash said he hit up on the idea after he became a parent and saw the food habits of his children were influenced by advertisements. "I noticed that they are making decisions about food which is not in the best interest of their health," he said. "We are teaching children about how to avoid processed food. We are doing it with our neuroscience approach," Shriprakash said, adding that "we need to engage children in a fun way about the very important topic without them feeling bored."
He further said that after eleven years working with John Hopkins University, and several other universities, his company reached a milestone that nobody was able to achieve. "We have published our findings in a prestigious medical journal which shows evidence that children can become healthy by playing with this application," says FriendsLearn company's founder and chief executive Bhargav.
The clinical study, published in the journal JMIR mHealth and uHealth, showed that just 20 minutes of gaming time a week had a strong positive impact on children's food choices when polled immediately following the game.
In fooya!, an avatar fights against robots that represent unhealthy/bad foods, with the aim of maintaining a good body shape for the avatar and earning enough coins to win the level and unlock the next stage. Avatars perform better if they eat healthy foods and move a lot, and are slower and heavier as they consume more calories. Arathi, mother of a daughter who used the FriendsLearn mobile application said: "As a parent, we have to care about children's health and the Fooya game is very useful for them. I think this is the best game for kids' healthcare. I am so happy that my daughter is playing it."