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Want your kids to eat healthy? Send them online!

The percentage of overweight children in the United States is growing at an alarming rate, with 1 out of 3 kids now considered to be overweight or obese. Programs like Michelle Obama's Let's Move are trying to get kids – and parents – on the right track but there's no easy solution for a problem that has reached epidemic proportions.

While parents, doctors, teachers, and other adults play an important role in shaping a child's eating habits, many people are starting to argue that kids should also have some responsibility for learning about healthy choices.

Although many schools now incorporate nutrition education into the curriculum, it is far from universal. And healthy fare in most school cafeterias is still a long way off. So if kids want basic information about healthy eating, where can they go?

The Internet, of course! Next time your youngster wants to go online, ask them to spend a few minutes on one of these healthy eating sites. You never know what might rub off!

  • MyPyramid.gov – With nutrition information for everyone, this Dept. of Agriculture site can be a little overwhelming. But set your kids up with the Blast Off Game, which is designed specifically for younger visitors. They'll be faced with the task of fueling a virtual rocket ship with just the right amounts of healthy foods for their gender and age.
  • ZisBoomBah.com - This Boulder, Colo. startup lets kids experiment with food by filling a virtual plate and rating the nutritional value of their creations. A meal is not considered complete until it consists of one meat, bean, or dairy; one vegetable; and one grain. When finished, registered users (registration is free) can share their meal ideas with their parents, guaranteeing you a meal they'll want to eat!
  • KidsHealth.org – This go-to health site for kids covers a wide range of issues and concerns. The nutrition content is less interactive than other sites, so younger children won't get much out of it. But for older kids, it offers some of the most comprehensive explanations about weight and dieting—a legitimate but little-discussed concern for many teens, especially if they've grown up with parents who are constantly worried about their own weight.
  • NutritionExplorations.org – The kids' branch of this all-encompassing site from the National Dairy Council features easy recipes and plenty of online games meant to teach about the food pyramid and serving sizes. It even offers a downloadable food journal and shopping list. And a partnership with the NFL's Play60 campaign means you can find plenty of suggestions for physical activity as well.

Comment by Brianna Parisi, posted 4/9/2010, 9:31 AM:

ZISBOOMBAH.com IS AWESOME! All my little brothers and sisters (6 of them) love it!!!!
Comment by Brandon Saranik, ZisBoomBah, posted 4/7/2010, 10:28 AM:

Everyone at ZisBoomBah appreciates people taking the time to address the issue of childhood nutrition. Our site and tools are evolving very quickly-so stay tuned and thanks for your support!
Comment by Debra Moffitt, KidsHealth, posted 4/6/2010, 9:44 AM:

Thanks for mentioning KidsHealth. We have a new interactive Food Guide Pyramid that kids - and grownups - may like!

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