Diabetes is a serious disease, and a difficult one to wrap your mind around, especially if you’re a kid. There are a few websites out there that make learning about diabetes a game! These forward thinking websites are of major benefit to both kids with diabetes, their young friends, and also to people of all ages who need to learn about the nutritional needs of people with diabetes.
Diabetes isn’t a game; no-one would argue that. However, using games as a learning tool can teach kids important skills, they can be fun for the whole family and they provide a welcome stress relief for many young people.
I have reviewed these various games, and here are the results:
The Diabetic Dog Game on the Nobel Prize educational games site. This is easy to sign up for; Pick a caretaker name and the name of your dog. You will receive a doggy manual telling you how to take care of your dog.
As a “caretaker,” I was instructed to keep my dog healthy by walking him, feeding him by buying food at the shop and keeping his blood sugar in check by giving him insulin injections. Keeping an eye on the bar at the bottom left of my screen informed me what the dog’s blood sugar was and I could take care of him according to his needs. Read the manual first, your dog’s blood sugar can drop quickly! The dog’s information is kept in a database, and you can compare how you are doing with other dog owners.
Didget from Bayer is a glucose meter that plugs into a Nintendo system, to reward the child for consistent testing. It awards reward points that children can use to buy items within the game and unlock new game levels. This is a unique idea, and one I think many parents will welcome.
The Didget isn’t available in the US yet, as it was developed in the U.K. But you can sign up for information on http://www.bayerdidget.com/.
Diabetes.org has a number of games on their website, all aimed at teaching diabetic kids stay healthy. None of them are complex or difficult.
*Build a Healthy Kid – Select three activities from the left, and three foods from the right. They are fed into the kid-building machine and the resulting “kid” pops out the bottom.
*Fix Frank – in which you are invited to place Frankenstein’s internal organs into the correct positions.
*Build a Healthy Plate – Move a spaceship and shoot a fork to get the right foods to build your healthy plate.
*Crossword – A fun crossword game in which you select a picture to get the clue.
*Food Fight – Not a very instructive game, but as much fun as it sounds! Don’t forget to dodge!
*Food Safari – Find the food hidden in the jungle. Quite uninspired.
There are more games on the way, as this idea catches on. Here is a quote from University of Washington’s News and Events:
“Leading the way at the University of Washington are researchers from information, medical and health service fields who’ve teamed up to create video games designed to help people with diabetes master nutritional skills and manage blood sugars.
Can you guess the carb count of a Big Mac? Compare the caloric density of an apple and a banana? Proceed to the next level.
The $200,000 gaming project, one of the first in the country to help adult diabetics manage diet in a nontraditional way, is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (www.healthgamesresearch.org).
The call for alternative approaches to chronic disease control comes at a time when diabetes rates are surging across the country. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics show that the rate of diabetes cases has nearly doubled in the last ten years. Roughly 90 percent of the new cases are Type 2 diabetes, a disease that typically presents later in life and is tied to rising obesity in America, the Fast Food Nation.”