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Computer 'game' offers youngsters healthy food check

Date 19 Sep 2006
Author The Editor

Young people in Durham are being encouraged to tuck into healthy eating by a virtual vending machine.

The computerised vendor allows young people to choose food from an express or a la carte menu – then tells them how healthy their choice is. Called Café Life! the interactive computer program uses real life scientific analysis of food samples taken by Durham County Council’s Trading Standards Service.

The program has now been produced on a CD, and Trading Standards intend it to go to every school in the county as well as eventually being distributed nationwide.

Phillip Holman, the Head of Trading Standards said: “The original concept came from an idea to recycle the nutritional information we obtain when analysing food and use it in an educational database. “We soon realised we had a wonderful opportunity to share the information in a new, fun way as the virtual café started to take shape."

“The main aim is to help our community better understand food composition and more importantly help people make informed choices about the food they eat,” he added.

The Trading Standards Food Team, and a software company that designed the program that uses the results of about 100 food analyses and allows a comparison with national nutrition guidelines.

It will also print the information on salt, fat, sugar and calories, using graphics and pictures so that it is easily understood, and how it compares with nutritional guidance. All children have to do is type in their name and age then select their meal choice to see if it is healthy or not.

It will be launched at Catchgate Primary School, County Durham, whose pupils have helped develop and improve a prototype game, on Thursday, 21st September.

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