After doing a lot of statistical data analysis and ethnographic research, we realized that the obesity crisis in America is not the fault of the consumer. We've been brainwashed to trust certain food brands and beverages that claim to be safe. What the average consumer doesn't know is that one 20oz bottle of their favorite soft drink contains more sugar than the American Heart Association recommends as a daily amount.
Originally, we thought the proper solution could be a smartphone app or a piece of wearable technology. But after talking with a Hispanic family with a young daughter, we learned that an app wouldn't have enough impact to really make a difference. Technology can only solve problems like this if people are willing to adopt them. There are already so many apps and wearables in the market that anything new probably won’t get to the heart of the issue.
We wanted to focus on an area in which the whole family could be engaged. The solution is NOT to keep kids in front of screens. It’s to get kids involved in learning about food. That’s where the idea for an interactive food playground was born.
Drawing inspiration from play areas that are educational and interactive (the Cosi science center in Columbus is a good example), we came up with two ideas for a playground.
When picking foods at stores, kids often convince their parents to buy the foods with colorful fun labels (which tend to be high in sugar content and low in other nutrients). Concept 1 is a playground that has play areas that correlate to the Nutrition Facts on food packaging. The goal is to increase kids’ understanding of what those labels mean and increase their ability to choose healthy products based on Nutrition Facts alone. Examples:
-Fiber Climb (two adjacent ladders with models of food products that increase as you climb higher)
-Sugar Crash (stairs that have models of food products that increase in sugar content as you climb. A slide at the top represents the loss of energy after a sugar crash).
There could also be interactive displays that show how eating certain foods every day will affect your body after a year.
Kids tend to learn through role-playing. If we built a park with a path in the shape of the human digestive system, interactive games could be played on it that give kids roles as organs or nutrients. The kid who is “sugar” goes to the kid who is “pancreas” and whoever plays “insulin” is released, etc. There could possibly be an app or wearable that goes along with the game. When the game is not being played, it becomes a normal path.