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Interactive Nutriton Education Works

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Nutrition is a compelling subject in the age of obesity. There is still a lot to learn, and the subject is urgent. Statistics indicate that, at best, the national percentage of overweight adults has leveled off, though for children, the numbers — and pounds — are still on the increase. At last count, there were an estimated 12 million obese kids in the United States.

Now, children are learning about diet and nutrition in school, but there are more fun ways to get the information across. Making the lesson hands-on can make all the difference in the world.

Take, for example, the new exhibit that debuted recently at the Koshland Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington. The facility has opened, “Food for Thought,” an interactive experience that invites visitors to explore the science of healthy eating at every age.

There are several variations of Food for Thought. In one video game-like module, you shop a virtual grocery store with the goal of buying the most nutritious foods with a set budget. In short, every choice counts. Or, you get to play a high school lunch lady in charge of choosing the healthiest foods to serve to imaginary students (image at left).

Visitors also get to explore nutritional requirements at every stage of life, get the facts on dietary supplements, and test their knowledge in a quiz.

After shopping, you can continue your education with the Healthy Plate Challenge. This contest, based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate food icon, is designed to demonsgtrate the various ways meals can be nutritious and delicious.

For the contest, participants are asked to go home to create their own version of a healthy MyPlate-inspired meal. The foods must be low in sodium, added sugars and saturated fats, and the plate should include the right proportion of fruits, vegetables, protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy foods.

Contestants are invited to take a photo of the meal on a dish so it resembles the MyPlate icon, or they can film themselves preparing and eating the meal. The media needs to be uploaded to a public photo/video sharing site, and the link included on the submission form submitted to the museum.The contest ends Dec. 17th.

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