MEET THE TEEN BE­HIND HEALTHY EAT­ING APP

How Hun­gry Harry is help­ing with chil­dren

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - cait­lyn@7days.ae

When Kunal Varani’s mother and brother started ar­gu­ing about healthy and un­healthy food op­tions while sit­ting at the din­ner ta­ble, it got the 15-year-old think­ing.

With an in­ter­est in com­puter pro­gram­ming, the Amer­i­can School of Dubai pupil de­cided to cre­ate some­thing that would im­prove peo­ple’s un­der­stand­ing of nu­tri­tion. His idea? A fun app game to help users learn about healthy and un­healthy choices. Varani ex­plains: “I did a lot of re­search, and checked out ex­ist­ing apps and games. I re­searched the is­sue of malnutrition. I wanted to see what peo­ple were strug­gling with the most, and what they wanted help with and I found a lot of peo­ple didn’t know what is clas­si­fied as healthy and un­healthy.”

Kunal worked with a nu­tri­tion­ist, Right Bite owner, Nathalie Had­dad, to re­search the field and topic.

From there, ‘Hun­gry Harry’ was cre­ated. The game shows how a char­ac­ter’s health im­proves or de­te­ri­o­rates as they con­sume se­lect foods on the screen.

Varani ad­mits he learned a whole lot him­self while cre­at­ing the app. “We had to choose 50 foods - 25 healthy and 25 un­healthy to in­clude in the game, with 10 su­per­foods. So I talked to the nu­tri­tion­ist about the foods and what are con­sid­ered su­per­foods.”

The ex­pe­ri­ence has al­ready had an im­pact on Kunal, and he hopes that oth­ers in the UAE will get some­thing from it.

“I’ve been work­ing on this game for a long time now - it has taken a year, and now when I’m eat­ing, I think ‘oh this is healthy, I should eat more of this’, and I’m con­sid­er­ing how to make my diet more bal­anced,” he ex­plains.

The din­ner ta­ble ar­gu­ments have stopped now too, as Kunal re­veals: “Now when some­thing like that comes up at the din­ner ta­ble, I can re­fer to Nathalie’s nu­tri­tion in­for­ma­tion. It has been very help­ful.”

TEEN TEACHER: 15-year-old Kunal Varani cre­ated an app to teach more about healthy eat­ing. Avail­able on iOS and An­droid.

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