U.S. Tackles Obesity: $1.2 Mil to Help Kids Create Video “Exergames”
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The Obama administration’s obsession with childhood obesity appears to have reached a new level with a $1.2 million government grant to help middle school students create fitness video games known as “exergames.”
The National Science Foundation recently gave researchers at a public university in Indiana the money to tackle two national challenges; increasing children’s interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and decreasing childhood obesity. So the academics have combined the two by parlaying kids’ innate interest in video games and solving big problems to inspire them to gain STEM skills needed to create technology-based fitness games. Talk about killing two birds with one stone!
Students will be encouraged to create “exergames” that require players to get up and move, according to the announcement released by the university, a known world-class research institution. Getting young gamers more active can help reduce rampant childhood obesity in the United States, says the team of technology researchers. “We looked at existing systems like Dance Dance Revolution and Wii Fit and wondered how we could use something similar to get kids excited about our academic fields,” says one of the professors in charge of the project.
The plan is to use gaming to spark kids’ STEM interest and improve physical fitness, which in turn will conquer a subject dear to the president’s heart; thus the government funding. Remember that Obama proudly signed into law his wife’s $4.5 billion measure to cure childhood obesity. The law, Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, aims to revolutionize the inner-city diet by providing fresh produce and grilled lean meats as alternatives to greasy, fried foods that tend to be more popular in low-income and minority neighborhoods.
As part of this effort the U.S. government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars, according to its own records, to study obesity and justify the creation of restrictive policies to control what Americans eat. And, of course, there’s the First Lady’s scandal-plagued “Let’s Move” initiative. Earlier this month Judicial Watch obtained government documents that show a marketing firm with close ties to the president got a plum no-bid contract of $100,000 to design the “Let’s Move” logo for Michelle Obama’s infamous childhood obesity campaign.
The new taxpayer-funded exergames are being promoted as yet another innovative way to fight the Obama-hyped epidemic of childhood obesity. The video games will be created over three years under a rather creative program called Teaching Engineering Concepts to Harness Future Innovators and Technologists (TECHFIT). The university professors will conduct summer workshops for middle school teachers who will return to their schools and pass along the knowledge. This will happen via 10-week programs that use technology to create fitness games. Participating teams will then gather to show off their fitness innovations. It will take years before we know if the program was successful and by then the $1.2 million that funded it will be long gone.