Virtual reality is quickly proving to be the antithesis of traditional sit-down video gaming performed on a couch. This revolutionary medium is actually improving human health by getting participants onto their feet. VR is even being used as an educational tool to teach people about the importance of eating nutritious foods.

Sugar Goggles: Virtual Reality Gaming for a Healthier Body

Sugar Goggles is a VR game created to educate students about the benefits of a balanced diet. This informative virtual reality creation debuted at Coral Gables Senior High School on March 15. This day also marked the announcement of a partnership between HealthCorps, a nonprofit group that arms students with tools for healthy living, with Atkins Nutritionals. HealthCorps was founded in 2003 by popular TV host Dr. Oz and his spouse, Lisa. The organization’s aim is to educate youngsters about healthy living and decrease obesity rates. Atkins Nutritionals educates people about healthy eating habits. Atkins provides tools and information that help people eat a balanced diet that is low in sugar and rife with foods containing “good” fat, protein and essential nutrients.

Scott Parker, the chief marketing officer of Atkins Nutritionals, stated that the partnership will help advance his group’s mission of helping youngsters reach their health potential. Parker introduced Sugar Goggles to Coral Gables Senior High School students while explaining how his company’s partnership with HealthCorps will serve as a high-tech means of teaching young people about healthy eating. Kids and teenagers are especially interested in virtual reality as it is a relatively new technology that immerses participants in a completely new world. It is a captivating and fun medium that allows users to escape the real world that they have grown accustomed to and dive into a virtual realm in which seemingly anything is possible.

Sugar Goggles VR for Healthy Eating

The Sugar Goggles virtual reality experience transports participants into the human body’s blood vessels, showing them the unique physical reactions caused by sugar consumption. The player earns points by choosing the healthiest food choice between two options as he travels through a virtual replica of the human blood stream. However, progress through the blood stream is slow-going if the player selects the wrong foods. If he chooses the healthiest choice, typically one that is low in sugar and loaded with protein or other sources of balanced energy, he is propelled forward. Those who select the wrong food choice such as a processed food loaded with sugar spur a blood sugar spike and subsequent crash that hinders progress. Such wrong selections prevent the accumulation of points and yield a fairly static gaming experience.

Thankfully, Sugar Goggles is not overly difficult so users with varying levels of nutritional knowledge can have a good time while playing. The ultimate aim of this highly unique virtual reality gaming experience is to educate youngsters about healthy eating habits and inspire them to limit their sugar intake.

A Nationwide Movement

HealthCorps has established nearly two dozen Living Labs in high schools across the nation. The group’s partnership with Atkins spurred a complete redesign of Coral Gables’ nutrition and health curriculum to make it as interactive and enjoyable as possible. The school’s updated curriculum makes use of the Sugar Goggles VR game as well as a HealthCorps activity called ‘Think Before You Drink”. This activity tests students’ ability to pinpoint sugar quantity in an array of beverages. The school’s diabetes education curriculum was also updated to help students gauge the long-term effects of a diet that is high in sugar. These educational programs have proven highly effective as they are thoroughly engaging compared to more traditional forms of education.

Look for the use of virtual reality for nutrition education to expand as the technology improves in the years ahead. The HealthCorps and Atkins alliance will bring Sugar Goggles VR to numerous other Living labs high schools across the nation. Aktins is also creating a smartphone app version of Sugar Goggles to make the game accessible to a larger number of youngsters as well as adults who are interested in healthy living.

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