September 22, 2008

My Weightloss Coach (Nintendo DS)

This cute, little game provides playful, positive enforcement of healthy lifestyle behaviors that should help most people make improvements gradually. Its major emphasis is on getting you to move more, an essential factor in sustained weight loss and long-term health. Focusing on easy adjustments, such as a gradual increase in daily step count, this product should fit into the life of most American adults. It accommodates a wide variety of pre-existing fitness levels, allowing you to count nearly any movement from housework to karate in your daily minimum of 30 minutes of exercise.

The way it tracks your calorie intake each day is particularly friendly, and a great improvement on most fitness programs I have tried for handheld devices. Tossing aside detailed lists of foods that make recording intake a time-consuming chore, you select foods from categories based on average number of calories for average-sized servings. Nearly any food can be accounted for, even when eating out.

The program is educational in a friendly way and provides customized feedback and suggestions based on your preferences and the results of mini-assessments. You have daily objectives and challenges to meet - some are playful and funny. But every objective met is rewarded in terms of miles traveled to interesting sights.

There are some downsides and places where the game can be improved. The provided pedometer is a little bulky. After I dropped mine for the last time, I picked up a $5 replacement that works just fine; you just enter the numbers by hand. The food lists also do not give you feedback on nutritional value of choices. The program itself reminds you to eat a diverse diet, but you could live on junk food with this game and still make your objectives. Finally, there is no way to correct mistakes, and I frequently have to fudge (no pun intended) what I eat in order to log something close to equivalent in calories.

For the classroom, this sort of game has a major disadvantage: only one user can use any particular cartridge and save data. There is no multi-user capacity with this game, unlike some other education titles (think BrainAge). That's particularly sad since there are mini-quizzes included in the game to test your knowledge about nutrition. It would be fun to compete with other players to improve scores and advance the furthest around the world!

Posted by bjohnson at September 22, 2008 11:58 AM