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Title: Child goal setting of dietary and physical activity in a serious videogame

item SIMONS, MONIQUE - Vrije University
item BARANOWSKI, JANICE - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)
item Thompson, Deborah - Debbe
item BUDAY, RICHARD - Archimage, Inc
item ABDELSAMAD, DINA - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)
item BARANOWSKI, TOM - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)

Submitted to: The Games for Health Journal: Research, Development, and Clinical Applications
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/16/2013
Publication Date: 6/1/2013
Citation: Simons, M., Baranowski, J., Thompson, D.J., Buday, R., Abdelsamad, D., Baranowski, T. 2013. Child goal setting of dietary and physical activity in a serious videogame. The Games for Health Journal: Research, Development, and Clinical Applications. 2(3):150-157.

Interpretive Summary: Obesity is a pervasive problem among children, and effective intervention approaches are needed to address this problem. Video games for health (G4H) may offer a solution. G4H are complex interventions that should be carefully examined and analyzed in regard to the procedures employed to influence behavior change. This article presents the value, reason, goal, and barrier item menus presented to players of the "Escape from Diab" video game, and the most frequently chosen items selected within each category. Future game developers targeting children's diet and physical activity can incorporate more abbreviated lists of each category of items, based on in-game data, to lower participant burden and likely enhance player enjoyment.

Technical Abstract: To inform child obesity prevention programs, the current article identified what children thought were the most important goals, values, and perceived barriers related to healthy eating and physical activity (PA) within a serious video game for health, "Escape from Diab" (Archimage Inc., Houston, TX). One hundred three children, 10–12 years of age, played "Escape from Diab". During game play the children were presented with a menu of goals, values, and barriers from which they selected the ones most important to them. The children's selections were transmitted to a central server and stored in a database. Frequencies were calculated and reported. We found the most important diet-related values and reasons for children were getting good grades and being healthy and fit. The most often reported barrier for fruit intake was that it does not fill you up, and for vegetable intake it was that availability at home was limited. Also, limited availability of bottled water at home was an often chosen barrier. PA-related important values and reasons were not missing school and having energy to do homework. Children preferred to limit sedentary activities for only 30 minutes rather than for 60 minutes. The most frequently mentioned barrier for reducing inactivity was "feeling too tired to do anything else". These findings provide important input for future obesity prevention video games attempting to motivate children to set healthy diet and PA goals.