Health experts stress that attitudes and habits formed in childhood can strongly influence a person's future health.
"If children learn about the benefits of good nutrition and exercise and the hazards of smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, their chances increase for longer, healthier and happier lives," said Carolyn Aldigé, president and founder of the Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation.
The need to help children make healthier choices is becoming ever more dire: The rates of childhood and adolescent obesity have doubled in the last 30 years, and as many as 50 percent of American youths do not exercise vigorously on a regular basis. Also, 4.5 million kids under 18 smoke regularly - including 10 percent of eighth-graders. With 70 percent of cancer cases directly attributable to diet and smoking, it's important to teach kids early on the importance of good health sense.
With that goal in mind, the Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation created "Dr. Health'nstein's Body Fun," a free, online computer game that teaches children how to make healthy choices about food and exercise at home and at school. The game gives students a chance to participate in simulated sports activities and to get advice on choosing sensible foods out of vending machines. "Dr. Health'nstein's Body Fun" is full of other important nutrition tips, too.
"Dr. Health'nstein's Body Fun" produces outstanding results in schools and has a profound effect on the children who have played it, according to the Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation. In fact, 93 percent of teachers who used Body Fun in their classrooms said it increased their students' interest in health education. Additionally, children said that they made healthier food choices after playing the game.