Application developers with an interest in fitness take note: Uncle Sam is on the lookout for your best ideas that combine mobile technology and healthy living.

The U.S. Office of the Surgeon General launched the Healthy Apps Challenge on Dec. 6, designed to encourage the development of mobile applications that help people make healthy choices. The contest asks developers to create health, wellness and fitness apps that provide health information to the general public and help those users engage in healthy behaviors.

Winning apps will be chosen in three categories:

  • Fitness/physical activity — apps aimed at people who don’t normally exercise regularly.
  • Nutrition/healthy eating — apps focused on quickly prepared home meals and obtaining healthy food while on the go.
  • Integrative health — apps designed to pull together multiple aspects of wellness, such as healthy sleep habits and lifestyle behavior change.

The apps will be judged by an independent panel of reviewers selected by U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin. The contest is being conducted in collaboration with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT.

Apps being submitted for the contest must have a data download or accessibility function, and special consideration will be given to those apps that bring a “fun factor” to health-promoting behaviors. Other criteria used for judging include usefulness, innovativeness, evidence-based or data-driven approach, usability and potential impact.

The submission period runs from Dec. 6 through Dec. 31. The winners will be announced on Jan. 31, 2012. The winning apps in each category will be used by Benjamin, who will write about the experience using a social media platform.