The United States Department of Agriculture Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion is seeking educational games and apps as part of its new campaign, “Innovations for Healthy Kids Challenge,” which is encouraging kids to eat more fruits and vegetables and decrease their consumption of foods with saturated fats and added sugars.

With childhood obesity continuing to rise in the United States, the Apps for Healthy Kids Challenge aims to “motivate the creation of innovative, fun, and engaging applications or games that encourage children, especially ‘tweens,’ to eat more healthfully and be more physically active.”

Developers, programmers, gamers, and the general public are all invited to develop educational games and apps based on the USDA’s Food Nutrition and Consumer Services Dataset. (The dataset contains pre-calculated portion sizes for simpler calculations.)

Specifically, submissions must incorporate at least one concept of the challenge, such as teaching kids to eat more whole grain; increasing fruit and vegetable consumption; consuming more low- or non-fat milk; choosing lean sources of protein (including beans); decreasing choices of food with saturated fats, added sugars, and excess sodium; being more physically active; and identifying and consuming proper food portion sizes.

The public comment period is open until June 28, 2010.

For information on how to comment or submit a game, click here.

To submit an entry to the challenge, click here.

Why it matters: Similar to the recent launch of other federally funded online youth education programs, such as the FTC’s advertising education program aimed at tweens, AdMongo, the USDA’s program is focused on combating childhood obesity in the United States. The Apps for Healthy Kids competition is the first step of the program, which will also include a challenge to produce motivating public service announcements and a recipe challenge, centered around creating healthful recipes used in schools.