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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ConsterJust take pride in joining the group of net neutrality nations, even if it's only temporarily.02/26/2015 - 1:24pm
Matthew Wilsonfcc passed net neutrality. now lets hope they dont screw up the details. ps I am not holding my breath on that one.02/26/2015 - 1:03pm
ZippyDSMleeIf I could stand blizz I would do what I do in Facebook and use zippy, they can screw off if they do not like it.02/26/2015 - 9:31am
Michael ChandraAh. Now THIS is a good reason to not want to enable RealID: Anyone with your email can try adding you as a friend, leading to complications if they find out you're using it but declining their request.02/26/2015 - 5:15am
Michael Chandra(Also, why the hell would you not announce this?? Now people think they got a bug.)02/26/2015 - 5:11am
Michael ChandraThe only argument against the second that I've read so far is 'I'm afraid I'd accidentally RealID instead of BattleTag someone'. How secure are the RealID databases anyway?02/26/2015 - 5:10am
Michael ChandraIt's a silly argument detracting from the two main issues: Is this safe (so RealID only enabled but not given out through twitter in any way) and is it problematic to force people to 'use' RealID without actually sharing it with others?02/26/2015 - 5:10am
Michael ChandraGot to love how people immediately bring up 'yeah I don't see a problem with using my real name, it's not as if people can find me with it'. Maybe not you, but that doesn't mean others cannot be found.02/26/2015 - 5:08am
Michael ChandraSo apparently it's because they wanted to tie it to Parental Controls and didn't want to make a separate parental control for it due to that taking effort.02/26/2015 - 5:03am
ZippyDSMleeWhy do they have billing account name and user name confused? Never understood that....02/26/2015 - 3:29am
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-25/google-s-computers-learn-to-play-video-games-by-themselves that is fairly impressive.02/25/2015 - 9:21pm
MechaCrashA universal ID among all of your characters across all games is a good idea. Making it use your real name instead of a screen name of your choosing is a horrible idea.02/25/2015 - 5:45pm
Michael ChandraThey also said posting on the forums was optional. To be honest, I really do NOT get why you'd introduce a new feature, brag about it and then secretly put a lock on it.02/25/2015 - 4:52pm
InfophileTwitter integration is a lot more optional than the forums (which was the last place they tried to enforce real names). So I don't see the backlash being as strong this time, especially since they aren't adding the requirement to an existing service02/25/2015 - 12:59pm
Michael ChandraIn the Real ID info, it's an optional thing for friends. Enforcing its usage for tweeting seems rather unnecessary.02/25/2015 - 12:14pm
ZippyDSMleenothing like a a few crashes inbetween moveing 400gb of data....02/25/2015 - 12:09pm
Michael ChandraOkay, so Blizzard's memory officially only goes back four years, as they cannot remember the backlash last time they tried forcing people to use their real names.02/25/2015 - 12:09pm
IvresseOnly context I can provide at the moment is the response from Blizz customer service: https://twitter.com/BlizzardCSEU_EN/status/57060293549676544402/25/2015 - 11:31am
PHX Corp@Craig R. I'm still testing Windows 10 Technical Preview as a consumer in advance of the final build02/25/2015 - 11:30am
IvresseBeen seeing a few people unhappy on Twitter recently due to the new Twitter integration in World of Warcraft, as they're just finding out now it requires an active Real ID system, which shows players real names...02/25/2015 - 11:02am
 

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