Skip to main content
ARS Home » Plains Area » Houston, Texas » Children's Nutrition Research Center » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #266256


Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: Design of video games for children's diet and physical activity behavior change

item Baranowski, Tom
item Thompson, Deborah - Debbe
item Buday, Richard
item Lu, Amy Shirong
item Baranowski, Janice

Submitted to: International Association on Computer Science in Sport
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/1/2010
Publication Date: 12/1/2010
Citation: Baranowski, T., Thompson, D.J., Buday, R., Lu, A., Baranowski, J. 2010. Design of video games for children's diet and physical activity behavior change. International Association on Computer Science in Sport. 9(Special Edition):3-17.

Interpretive Summary: Video games offer promise of promoting diet and physical activity behavior change among children, and adults. This paper reviews several video games developed by the Behavioral Nutrition Group, at the Children's Nutrition Research Center, Houston TX. The paper describes the behavior change procedures inserted into each video game, and presents the results of their outcome evaluations. While the results have been promising, more research is needed on how to optimally use video games for diet and physical activity behavior change.

Technical Abstract: Serious video games (VG) offer new opportunities for promoting health related diet, and physical activity change among children. Games can be designed to use storylines, characters, and behavior change procedures, including modeling (e.g., engaging characters make changes themselves, and face and overcome challenges related to fruit and vegetable (FV) and physical activity (PA) goal attainment and/or consumption), skill development (e.g., asking behaviors; virtual recipe preparation), self regulatory behaviors (problem solving, goal setting, goal review, decision making), rewards (e.g., points and positive statements generated by the program), immediate feedback (e.g., through characters and/or statements that appear on the computer screen at critical decision points), and personalization (e.g., tailored choices offered at critical junctures, based on responses to baselines questions related to preferences, outcome expectancies, etc). We are in the earliest stages of learning how to optimally design effective behavior change procedures for use in VG, and yet they have been demonstrated to change behavior. As we learn, VG offer more and better opportunities for obesity prevention that can adjust to individual needs and preferences.