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Active Health on the Nintendo DS follows in the footsteps of games like Nutrition Matters on the Wii and Walk With Me on the DS in encouraging us to get active and eat more healthily. Well present and sharp witted, Active Health with Carol Vorderman manages to combine elements of both these games with much greater success though.
I've tried on numerous occasions to keep a food diary, with pen and paper and with Internet sites like 'Weight Loss Recourses'. The theory behind this is that it makes you much more aware of extra calories that you are eating, so you are more food conscious. And indeed, it's surprising how the mind can easily forget that extra biscuit you ate whilst making your cup of coffee or that late night bowl of cereal. I could do with loosing a few lb's - don't we all - but my problem is usually eating too much. So something that helps me keep an eye how much I'm consuming is always very welcome.
Active Health with Carol Vorderman has two main parts. Firstly, a step counter which you pop in your pocket to measure your activity levels through the day. Secondly, a food diary that as I've already mentioned helps you keep track of your eating.
The game set up is really easy and very straight forward. There is a very life-like (and slightly more attractive - sorry Carol) cartoon Carol Vorderman to talk you through inputting all your details. She then gives you your personal weight loss and exercise plan.
My suggested plan was pretty realistic for me. I was told I was in a healthy weight range but could probably do with loosing a bit, which is quite true! You can set your own goals too and there are prompts for this as you go thorough.
They have found a great balance using funky graphics whilst still retaining grown up feel.
The look of the game is great! They have found a great balance using funky graphics whilst still retaining grown up feel. The game is very simple to use, even the food input is all done using picture icons which you drag to the meal table. Carol asks you questions to clarify what you have eaten like 'were there potatoes in this?'. There is a sliding scale to choose the percentage of an ingredient in the meal.
I was curious when I first saw this how accurate it would be when inputting things you cook yourself. For example I had Lentil and Bacon soup yesterday, so I was able to put in a small amount of the meat icon, a large amount of vegetables and about half pulses/grains. This wasn't totally accurate as there were other ingredients like stock and tomato puree. So there is a certain amount of guess work to it. This could make it a flop for those who are seriously calorie counting. But on the other hand there is a nutrition/weight count on the left hand screen so you can check your calorie content against what you packet of biscuits for example.
This game makes the job of loosing weight seem so much less of a chore.
Another element to the food side of the game is the recipe book. Once you get started inputting your calories you get a weekly meal plan from Carol which you can follow (or not!) using recipes from the game. As with all good Nintendo DS recipe tools you can also create your own shopping list.
There aren't any pictures in the recipe book but if some of the other DS cooking games are anything to go by this is a good thing. Food photos, unless really well done, can look awful and I think this would distract from a good looking game. If I wasn't also cooking for three hungry children and a fussy husband I'd love to give the meal plan a go as it looked really nice, and just the incentive I need to ditch those extra unnecessary carbs and fatty snacks.
The best bit of the game for me is that you are given an overall calorie count for the day which you can keep an eye on. After dinner I had already reached my calorie target. So I knew that if I ate that bowl of Apple Crumble and custard it would put me way over my daily target. Whether I did is between me and my DS!
I think this is one of the best diet and nutrition tools I've seen. It's fun and useable, and makes the job of loosing weight seem so much less of a chore and its really easy to keep up with your food diary as you can carry your DS with you.
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