Study: Tailored Games Encourage Kids to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

December 8, 2010 -

A study published online and set to appear in the pages of the January 2011 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine finds that games can be used to encourage children to eat more fruits and vegetables.

Researchers are looking for new ways to combat the rise of obesity and type 2 diabetes in young people. One of the ways to combat this is an increased intake of healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, fruit juices, and water. Researchers hypothesized going into this study that video games designed to support healthy lifestyles would have a positive effect on children who played them.

"Serious video games offer promise of innovative channels for effective behavior change," writes Tom Baranowski, PhD, from the Agricultural Research Service Children's Nutrition Research Center, US Department of Agriculture, at the Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston, Texas, and colleagues. "Once a child's attention has been attracted, modeling, tailoring, and feedback can increase personal relevance; in addition, games add fun."

The study monitored 133 children, ages 10 - 12 years, with body mass indexes between the 50th and 95th percentiles. Using computers, 103 participants played 2 games called "Escape From Diab" and "Nanoswarm: Invasion From Inner Space." B games were specifically designed to support social cognition, self-determination, and persuasion.

A control group of 50 children played games with diet and physical activity themes on popular Web sites. Each group underwent four weight, body composition, and physical activity assessments immediately after completion of Escape From Diab, immediately after Nanoswarm, and two months after the trial ended. Participants were paid $25 for the first evaluation, with $5 more added incrementally to each of the subsequent reviews.

During the study, the children reported food intake to registered dieticians and game activity was verified through email, call-ins, and during equipment repair requests.

The study found that children playing Escape From Diab and Nanoswarm ate approximately 0.67 more servings per day of fruits (including 100 percent juice) and vegetables (P = .018) than those in the control group. The games had no clear affect on water intake, and did not "result in greater moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (P = .496) or lower body mass index (P = .107)."

"Fruit and vegetable intake and water consumption and physical activity were still below the minimum recommendations, indicating that more work is needed," the authors write.

The study did have its fair share of limitations too including self-reporting, limited size of the study group due to funding limitations, the effectiveness of the monetary incentives in motivating study subjects, and the small increase in "sedentary behavior."

"Serious video games hold promise, but their effectiveness and mechanisms of change among youth need to be investigated more thoroughly," the study authors write. "Research is needed on the optimal design of video game components to maximize change."

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the US Department of Agriculture supported the study. Study author Richard Buday is the President of Archimage, the creators of Escape From Diab and Nano.

Source: MedScape


 
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MaskedPixelanteProbably dihydrogen monoxide, the most dangerous substance in the universe.09/21/2014 - 10:14am
james_fudgewell I hope he called the police so they can let us all know.09/21/2014 - 9:07am
quiknkoldIt's pretty gnarly. Depending on what it is, it could be worse than white powder or a fake bomb.09/21/2014 - 9:06am
james_fudgeI just looked it up on UPS.com09/21/2014 - 8:56am
james_fudgeand expensive for an American to ship to London.09/21/2014 - 8:55am
E. Zachary KnightThat is pretty scary. Would have been worse if it were a fake bomb or white powder.09/21/2014 - 8:49am
quiknkoldThere's some more tweets regarding it with more pictures09/21/2014 - 8:09am
quiknkoldMilo Yiannopoulos was mailed a syringe filled with clear liquid. He claims it's anti gamergate harassment. Mentioned on his twitter twitter.com/Nero/status/51366668391625523209/21/2014 - 8:07am
Andrew EisenNow, having said that, what sites are you reading that are claiming that if "you self-identify as a Gamer, you're immediately the problem" or that gamers are "obligated to stop harassment"? Or was that hyperbole too?09/21/2014 - 1:03am
Andrew EisenFirst of all, ONE person in the Shout box suggested an obligation to call harassers out on their harassing but only after YOU brought it up. Plus, Techno said "when you see it happening." If you don't see it, you're not under any obligation.09/21/2014 - 1:02am
Sleaker@Craig R. - at this point I don't even know what the hashtags are suppsed to be in support of. what does GamerGate actually signify.09/21/2014 - 12:21am
Sleaker@AE - Hyperbole for the first 2, but it seems like some of the comments in the shout are attempting to place blame on fellow gamers because they aren't actively telling people to stop harassing even though they don't necessarily know anyone that has.09/21/2014 - 12:16am
Andrew EisenSleaker - Who the heck are you reading that is claiming "all gamers are bad," we "need to pass laws or judgement on all gamers," that if "you self-identify as a Gamer, you're immediately the problem," or that gamers are "obligated to stop harassment"?09/20/2014 - 9:44pm
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Craig R.Btw, the guy who swatted security expert Brian Krebs? He got picked up recently. It can be done.09/20/2014 - 8:55pm
Craig R.Such things are not done in a vacuum... hence why the 4chan and other logs show what fools you've all been, tricked into doing the trolls' work09/20/2014 - 8:49pm
Sleaker@Technogeek - How do you call someone out that anonymously calls in a SWAT team, or sends threats to people?09/20/2014 - 7:04pm
Technogeek"It also doesn't mean you're obligated to stop harassment from all gamers that are doing so." I'd say you're certainly obligated to call them out when you see it happening.09/20/2014 - 5:17pm
SleakerNow if you disagree with anything in my last 2 posts then we obviously have a difference in world view, and wont come to any sort of agreement. I'm fine with that, maybe some people aren't?09/20/2014 - 5:09pm
SleakerIt also doesn't mean that just because a news outlet says that Gamers are the problem and you self-identify as a Gamer, you're immediately the problem. It also doesn't mean you're obligated to stop harassment from all gamers that are doing so.09/20/2014 - 4:59pm
 

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