story to find out more.
The Food, Fun, and
Fitness Internet Program for Girls uses culturally sensitive comic strips
geared towards 8- to 10-year-old African-American girls to promote better food
choices and physical activity. Click the image for more information about
Can Video Games Help Kids Make Healthy
Choices? By Alfredo Flores March 14, 2006
Novel, high-tech tools are being developed by
Agricultural Research Service scientists
for teaching kids about healthy eating and physical activity behaviors.
At the ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)
at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston,
Texas, researchers are using interactive computer gamesand other forms of
"edu-tainment"to teach kids of various age groups about the importance of
healthy food and exercise.
This study and other ARS obesity-related research is featured in the
March issue of Agricultural Research magazine, published by ARS, the
U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief
in-house scientific research agency.
CNRC researchers have already created and evaluated several
computer-based vehicles that fall under the umbrella of "eHealth" programs. The
eHealth series of CNRC projects is aimed at engaging children in studies
promoting healthy nutrition or physical activity behaviors, using devices such
as the Internet, video games, Web-based games, comic books, cartoons and other
One of the latest efforts, called "Food, Fun and Fitness Internet
Program for Girls," focuses on preventing obesity among 8- to10-year-old
African-American girls. This group has been identified as having potentially
higher-than-normal obesity rates and being at a greater risk of heart disease,
some cancers, diabetes and stroke when they grow up.
Behavioral scientist Deborah Thompson was the principal CNRC
investigator for this interactive online computer program. She led the research
team in developing and refining the design and in evaluating the effectiveness
of the approach. Its primary goal was to promote an increase in two behaviors:
physical activity and consumption of fruit, vegetables, juices and
waterboth important health habits that Thompson hopes young girls will
carry into adulthood.
The Internet program focuses on culturally sensitive Web-based comic
strips that model healthy behaviors. In an 8-week study of the Food, Fun and
Fitness Internet Program for Girls with 80 8- to 10-year-old African-American
girls in the Houston area, Thompson examined the effect of immediate versus
delayed incentives on the log-on rate to the CNRC's eHealth program website.
Preliminary results suggest that eHealth programs may be an effective way to
help young African-American girls increase fruit and vegetable intake and
become more physically active, thereby decreasing their obesity risk.
about this research in the March 2006 issue of Agricultural Research