A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents should know this interactive educational site stars popular Disney characters. It's devoid of any inappropriate content, kids don't need to include any personal information beyond a name to add their score to the scoreboard (optional), and there are no areas where players can make contact with other players. And, content changes the more kids play, so they're always learning something new. While the kids' areas don't include any advertising beyond Disney characters, the parents' section includes promotional images of foods with Disney-related packaging (healthier products in one section, sugary treats in another along with a reminder they should be enjoyed only occasionally and in moderation). The parents' section also has links to the sites of manufacturers of foods with Disney-related packaging and other nutrition-related sites.
What's it about?
Healthy competition is the name of the game at DISNEY'S HEALTHY KIDS, an interactive site where kids learn important nutritional facts and how to use the USDA's food pyramid to create and maintain a balanced diet. A camp counselor guides kids through competitions at Mickey's Mess Hall, Kim Possible's Science Cave, Lilo's Luau, and Incredible Island, where players learn about the food pyramid then compete in trivia games (covering values/benefits of certain foods, balanced meals, interpreting and applying food pyramid guidelines, and daily physical exercise) against imaginary opponents. Besides Disney characters there's no commercialism except in the parent-specific area where there are promotions for foods and links to healthy lifestyle guides for families.
Is it any good?
Overall the site does a good job emphasizing the importance of a healthy lifestyle and explaining the food pyramid. Essential background information given at each camp stays the same, but training session facts and trivia questions rotate, so the more kids play, the more they learn. Questions range in difficulty and cover a lot of ground -- even parents can learn something new. The cartoon graphics are bold and very inviting.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how commercialism plays a role in healthy -- and unhealthy -- eating. Have you ever asked your parents to buy you a certain brand of food because one of your favorite characters, movies, or TV shows was on the package? When you go to the grocery store, do you see more healthy or unhealthy foods with packages targeted at kids? Do you think it's more important that a food product features one of your favorite characters on its packaging, or that it tastes good and is healthy? Why?