MakingHealthyChoices.IconSeptember may be best known for the beginning of a new school year, the reintroduction of pumpkin-flavored/scented everything into our diets and homes, and the start of our holiday countdowns—but what you may not have known is that September is also National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.

While childhood obesity rates are reported to be stabilizing in the U.S. after being on the rise for many years, statistics still show that nearly 17 percent of children in the U.S. are obese and 31.8 percent are either obese or overweight, according to a report released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America’s Health.

While there are a number of health-related resources on the market available to both parents and children, it’s difficult to predict which are the most useful—or in some cases just worth the money. Options such as fancy fitness trackers and buying each and every diet or wellness title at Barnes & Noble can get very pricey, but there is a better option—an app!

Kids Making Health Choices, an app developed by Upward Bound Inc. and based on the children’s book Making Healthy Choices—A Story to Inspire Fit, Weight-Wise Kids by Merilee Kern is available for $2.99 on the iTunes App Store. Accessible from an iPhone or iPad, kids can connect to recipes, information, and resources on-the-go, which encourages and empowers kids to get—and stay—healthy.

MakingHealthyChoices.RecipesKids, parents, caregivers, and educators can use this app as a tool to motivate kids to make wiser lifestyle choices and all around healthier decisions when it comes to food and nutrition. The app’s Recipes section features a variety of kid-friendly food and drink items perfect for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and snacks. I personally love that users are able to bookmark their favorite recipes so they’re easy to find the next time they need to pull up the recipe. Kids will scroll through recipes for Almond Butter Banana Bites, Chocolate Almond Milk Smoothies, Green Apple Juice, and other great options that are easy to make and a fun activity for kids and parents to do together. By simply perusing the healthy meal and snack suggestions kids will be more likely to make health-conscious decisions throughout the day. Plus, parents can even export the recipes via email so they can print, share, or just utilize the material offline.

Also included in the app is an e-book that allows users to flip from page to page by swiping their phone screens or pressing the arrow keys. The fictional tale chronicles a main character who changes his life for the better in a relatable, inspiring way. Young readers will identify with the character’s struggles and achievements, which will motivate them to make wiser lifestyle choices themselves.

The Kids Making Healthy Choices app also invites kids to play fun health-themed games, including a Healthy Food Crossword Puzzle. In addition, kids and parents will have access to a quick reference hotlink list that contains other tools (including other useful health apps) that help foster healthy kids. Parents can also use the links to find news, important statistics, and helpful programs related to learning more about how to help kids with weight issues.

Visit www.kidsmakinghealthychoices.com/cruise.html to read a review by a second grade teacher who utilized Merilee Kern’s book for an in-class lesson on nutrition and lifestyle-based wellness.