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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: Behavioral science in video games for children's diet and physical activity change: Key research needs

item Baranowski, Tom
item Baranowski, Janice
item Thompson, Deborah - Debbe
item Buday, Richard

Submitted to: Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/27/2011
Publication Date: 3/1/2011
Citation: Baranowski, T., Baranowski, J., Thompson, D.J., Buday, R. 2011. Behavioral science in video games for children's diet and physical activity change: Key research needs. Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology. 5(2):229-233.

Interpretive Summary: Most child diet and physical activity change programs have not worked. The few that have, attained small changes. Preliminary research with video games indicates great promise for promoting behavior change, however, the scientific foundation for how they work needs to be better understood. This paper details a multiple step mediation model with intervention procedures at each step to propose how video games may promote behavior change, and provide a conceptual model to stimulate further research. The more we learn about these processes of change, the more likely we will be able to design effective videogames.

Technical Abstract: Innovative intervention programs are needed to overcome the limitations in previous programs that promoted change in diabetes risk behaviors in children. Serious video games show promise of changing dietary and physical activity behaviors, but research is needed on the optimal design of behavior-change procedures in video games, the mechanisms that account for changes obtained, and the groups in which these interventions work best. Such research will permit the optimal design of serious video games for diabetes and obesity prevention in the future.

Last Modified: 10/16/2017
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