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Research Project: Childhood Obesity Prevention

Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: Video games and good eating

Author
item Thompson, Deborah - Debbe

Submitted to: Popular Publication
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/13/2018
Publication Date: 8/28/2018
Citation: Thompson, D.J. 2018. Video games and good eating. Public Health Post [online forum]. August 28, 2018. Available: https://www.publichealthpost.org/research/designing-video-games-for-health/.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Videogames are often thought of as simply a source of entertainment. But, what if they could do more? Emerging evidence suggests that a special type of videogame, called games for health, can change health behavior. Children often do not meet federal dietary guidelines for fruit and vegetables. This is a problem because eating fewer fruits and vegetables than recommended is linked to certain diseases, like heart disease and some types cancers. Therefore, helping children eat more fruits and vegetables is an important public health goal. Working with a game design studio, we created Squire’s Quest! II a 10-episode game for health to help pre-adolescents (4th and 5th graders) eat more fruit and vegetables. Results of our study with 400 4th and 5th graders showed that nearly all the children liked the game and rated it highly. When asked to give the game a grade, 92% gave it an A or B. Those who created a plan to help them meet their fruit and vegetable goal increased their intake by 0.72 servings a day immediately after they finished playing the game, and they were still eating more fruits and vegetables 3 months later (0.68 servings). This study provides evidence that embedding behavior change procedures into a videogame designed to promote healthy dietary behaviors is acceptable to children and can lead to behavior change, particularly when the game is designed in partnership with children and helps them make plans for how to eat more fruit and vegetables.