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Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: A serious video game to increase fruit and vegetable consumption among elementary aged youth (Squire's Quest! II): Rationale, design, and methods

item Thompson, Deborah - Debbe
item Bhatt, Rinku
item Lazarus, Melannie
item Cullen, Karen
item Baranowski, Janice
item Baranowski, Tom

Submitted to: Journal of Medical Internet Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/18/2012
Publication Date: 11/21/2012
Citation: Thompson, D.J., Bhatt, R., Lazarus, M., Cullen, K., Baranowski, J., Baranowski, T. 2012. A serious video game to increase fruit and vegetable consumption among elementary aged youth (Squire's Quest! II): Rationale, design, and methods. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 1(2):e19.

Interpretive Summary: Children eat fewer fruits and vegetables than recommended. This is a concern because consuming adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables decreases the risk of certain chronic diseases. Setting goals has been a useful technique with adults wishing to change a behavior, but it has not been as effective with children. Helping children learn to make plans for how a goal will the attained may be a useful technique for helping them to eat more fruits and vegetables. This paper describes a videogame that was designed to test this theory. This research will provide important information regarding whether helping elementary age children make plans for how to attain a goal is an effective way to help them eat more fruits and vegetables.

Technical Abstract: Youths eat fewer fruits and vegetables than recommended. Effective methods are needed to increase and maintain their fruit and vegetable consumption. Goal setting has been an effective behavior change procedure among adults, but has had limited effectiveness among youths. Implementation intentions are specific plans to facilitate goal attainment. Redefining goal setting to include implementation intentions may be an effective way to increase effectiveness. Video games offer a controlled venue for conducting behavioral research and testing hypotheses to identify mechanisms of effect. This report describes the protocol that guided the design and evaluation of Squire’s Quest! II, a video game aimed to increase child fruit and vegetable consumption. Squire’s Quest! II is a 10-episode videogame promoting fruit and vegetable consumption to 4th and 5th grade children (approximately 9-11 year old youths). A four-group randomized design (n=400 parent/child dyads) was used to systematically test the effect of two types of implementation intentions (action, coping) on fruit and vegetable goal attainment and consumption of 4th and 5th graders. Data collection occurred at baseline, immediately post game-play, and 3 months later. Child was the unit of assignment. Three dietary recalls were collected at each data collection period by trained interviewers using the Nutrient Data System for Research (NDSR 2009). Psychosocial and process data were also collected. To our knowledge, this is the first research to explore the effect of implementation intentions on child fruit and vegetable goal attainment and consumption. This intervention will contribute valuable information regarding whether implementation intentions are effective with elementary age children.