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Surgeon General’s Healthy Apps Challenge: About The Winners

TiPhone with appshe results of the Surgeon General’s Healthy App Challenge highlight the ability of innovative new technologies to provide health information tailored to the needs of the user, and empower the public to regularly engage in and enjoy health-promoting behaviors.

The applications were assessed against a number of criteria including: usefulness; innovativeness; the quality of the evidence base underpinning the approach to healthy behaviors; usability; the ability to tailor and download personal data; and whether or not there was a “fun” factor.  All submissions were required to be available on readily accessible platforms, free for consumer use, and fully operational without the purchase of additional products.

A range of experts were involved in selecting the winning apps:

  • Michelle Kwan – Champion figure-skater and a member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports &Nutrition.
  • Cornell McClellan – Fitness consultant and a member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition.
  • Wayne Jonas, M.D. – President and CEO of the Samueli Institute.
  • Farzad Mostashari, M.D. - National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Todd Park - Chief Technology Officer and entrepreneur-in-residence, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Shellie Pfohl - Executive Director, President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition.

You can access all these apps for free from http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/ and from the websites below.

Healthy Eating / Nutrition

Since we had two outstanding apps in this category, we declared joint winners. Both of these apps can help you to make healthy food choices in practical ways that can be tailored to your specific needs.

GoodGuide Exit Disclaimer (available for both iOS and Android) 
This app makes it easy to get the information you need about your food, personal care, and household products to help you make healthy (and green and ethical) choices.  You can use the bar code scanner to get this information while you shop and select products based on your preferences.

Fooducate Exit Disclaimer (available for both iOS and Android) 
This app helps you make healthy food choices.  When shopping you can scan the product bar code for a quick read on a food’s health value, represented by a letter grade from A to D, plus additional information such as nutrients and additives. The app can offer healthier alternatives and compare two products side-by-side. 

Physical Fitness / Activity

The winning app in this category addresses both exercise and healthy eating.

Lose It! Exit Disclaimer (available for iOS; it can also be used on the web) 
This app helps you achieve your diet and exercise goals.  It allows you to set a daily calorie budget and then prompts you to record your food intake and exercise to meet that budget.  You also can invite your friends to view your logs on Facebook to boost your motivation and encourage one another.

Two other apps in this category received high marks: 

Fit Friendzy Exit Disclaimer (available for iOS)  
This app encourages everyone to be more active by highlighting the benefits of not just traditional exercise but also of tasks like gardening, dancing, housecleaning, and snow shoveling.  You can challenge yourself or join in challenges with your friends.  There is also the option to share your exercise data with your health care provider. 

MapMyFitness Exit Disclaimer (available for iOS, BlackBerry and Android)  
This app encompasses both fitness and nutrition education.  It lets you use the built-in GPS of your mobile device to track your fitness activities. You can establish a training log, record your activity, keep track of calories consumed, and share your information with friends.

Integrative Health / Well-being

The winner in this category encourages people to develop healthy habits, make positive changes in their lives, and to stick with them.

Healthy Habits
 Exit Disclaimer (available for iOS) 
This app recognizes that good health is not just about keeping active and eating healthily, but also about getting a good night’s sleep, thinking positively, and spending time with family and friends.  It also addresses health issues such as smoking, wearing sunscreen, taking time for creative activities, and reducing stress. You can choose which healthy habits you want to track. .

For Children

Two additional apps focused on children’s health received high marks.  Adults will enjoy them too.

Max’s Plate Exit Disclaimer (available for iOS) 
This app educates young children (and their parents) about healthy eating. It provides a fun and entertaining way to learn about good nutrition.

Short Sequence: Kids’ Yoga Journey Exit Disclaimer (available for iOS, Android and Nook)  
This app has simple instructions for yoga poses for children and beautiful illustrations.