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


 
Forgot your password?
Username :
Password :

Poll

Which Feminist Frequency video are you looking forward to most?:

Shout box

You're not permitted to post shouts.
Wonderkarpgoogle fiber coming to atlanta georgia. I'm gonna try to get a transfer to atlanta just to get google fiber. lol01/28/2015 - 9:13am
Wonderkarpotherwise Its just going to feel like another unnecessary reboot to me01/28/2015 - 9:09am
Wonderkarpmy god, thats an awesome ghostbusters cast. why couldnt it just be a sequal and not a reboot though!? I hate Reboots and I'd rather have a new story with new characters than a gender swapped rehash. Throw in Dan Aykroyd to link the two franchises.01/28/2015 - 9:08am
E. Zachary KnightThe mandatory free trial aspect was one of my favorite features and I was greatly disappointed when they ended that part of it.01/28/2015 - 8:31am
E. Zachary KnightMecha, I never considered that a problem as the Ouya is capable of rendering games at a better than PS2 capability. However, the ease of development for Android has greatly lowered the bar for the vast number of games published for Android based systems.01/28/2015 - 8:30am
MechaTama31Goth_Skunk: It's not too late for CiVIlization... ;)01/28/2015 - 12:40am
MechaCrashI thought one of its other big issues was all the "quality" of phone games with all the portability of your television.01/27/2015 - 11:34pm
E. Zachary KnightApparently, people did not want a $100 console, they wanted a $200 one for a $100 price tag.01/27/2015 - 11:18pm
E. Zachary KnightI remember when people were demanding Ouya used the new and untested Tegra 4 processor rather than the tried and true Tegra 3, increase the RAM to 2Gigs and various other expensive addons.01/27/2015 - 11:17pm
ConsterCraig: perhaps I should've used the word "unreasonable", as in people clamoring for stretch goals that would guarantee they lose money on each deck.01/27/2015 - 10:04pm
Andrew EisenIt's my favorite movie. I'm looking forward to it as well.01/27/2015 - 9:16pm
Goth_SkunkI grew up idolizing Ghostbusters. I'm extremely excited to see another film.01/27/2015 - 8:52pm
Goth_SkunkEscapist -- via Hollywood reporter -- gives us a glimpse at the probable cast of the new Ghostbuster's movie: http://ow.ly/I3GyZ01/27/2015 - 8:51pm
Craig R.Nearly $4.2m in a week for Exploding Kittens. Can anything truly be unrealistic at this point?01/27/2015 - 8:50pm
prh99I am sure. Just have no interest in tropes in general or her take on gender portrayal.01/27/2015 - 7:44pm
Goth_SkunkI personally enjoy replacing letters with numbers in titles of movies and games. I think Firaxis missed out on a huge chuckle by calling it "Civilization V" and not "CiVilization."01/27/2015 - 7:20pm
Andrew EisenI bet I can guess how you voted!01/27/2015 - 7:02pm
prh99Never actually watched one, probably won't start.01/27/2015 - 6:15pm
E. Zachary KnightConster, when are unrealistic stretch goal demands anything new? They happen in every Kickstarter I have seen.01/27/2015 - 5:58pm
E. Zachary KnightAE: You forgot the "The video that conforms to my preconceived ideas about gender in games" option.01/27/2015 - 5:56pm
 

Be Heard - Contact Your Politician