Computer Games for Cooking and Weight Loss

Topics: Obesity and Weight Loss

When Mike Roizen and I taught nutrition and cooking to medical students at SUNY 6 years ago, we thought we needed to be there.

But people learn in all sorts of ways. Now Nintendo is out with four popular choices.

1. My Weight Loss Coach software. A simple stick-figure tool for someone starting out, this is more of an adult health app than a game. It coaches small, bite-size daily steps and reminders: skip the corn chips today. Put the salt shaker in the cabinet. There is a calorie counter and an iphone app.

2. Cooking Mama. Educational and slightly second-life-ish, Cooking Mama allows you to use the stylus as your ubi-tool (stir, chop, slice, dice, knead) for 70+ largely Japanese-style recipes. Cooking Mama has a bit of Gordon Ramsay, but only a little nicer. When you make a mistake cooking you’re not lambasted, though her eyes can flame. Recipe difficulty varies greatly; with little emphasis on calories.

3. Cooking Mama 2 can feed friends, and you can customize the kitchen, cookware and Mama’s clothes (nothing too racy, at all). Both Mama games have their adult fans, but cutesy graphics and the simple characters cater especially to preteens.

4. Personal Trainer: Cooking. Quirky and eclectically international, this is an interactive cookbook. You get detailed guidance for shopping and cooking 245+ recipes from lasagna to bulgogi on two small screens with WiFi. You can select dishes (using voice recognition and touch screens) according to calories per dish.

Hands-on is still the best way I know to teach healthy cooking. But if private weight loss coaching can work well by email, phone and fax, then this first phalanx of weight loss and cooking games is worth a look.