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Video games have been labeled as one of the causes of childhood obesity, but a new study from the Baylor College of Medicine suggests that playing video games designed to encourage healthy eating habits may get children to eat more fruits and vegetables.
The study looked at 133 children age 10 to 12 who were all in the upper half of body mass index scores for their age group. One group of children played two games designed to promote healthy eating and then answered questions about their experience. The study found that kids who played the special games ate about two-thirds of an additional serving of fruits and vegetables each day compared with those who didn’t. Study researchers concluded that video games hold promise for use in helping persuade kids to eat more healthy fruits and vegetables.
“It’s welcome news to hear that playing specially designed video games might get children to eat more nutritious fruits and vegetables,” said Elizabeth Pivonka, president and CEO of Produce for Better Health Foundation, the nonprofit entity behind the Fruits & Veggies-More Matters national public health initiative. “The prevalence of childhood obesity has risen dramatically in recent years and getting kids to eat more healthy fruits and vegetables in place of less nutritious, higher-calorie items is a great start at reversing this trend.”
Part of the Fruits & Veggies-More Matters health initiative, the Food Champs website, www.FoodChamps.org, is the kids’ destination for fruit and veggie fun on the Internet. The Food Champs website is age appropriate for children two through eight years old. It educates kids about fruits and vegetables, and encourages them to eat more, while they play games, fill in coloring pages, and explore other fun, interactive activities.
“It can be difficult to get children to eat fruits and vegetables when there are so many other choices available, but we hope to help by offering a fun way for kids to learn about good nutrition,” Pivonka said. “The games and activities are fun for kids either at home or in a classroom setting. That makes a visit to www.FoodChamps.org a great idea for parents and early education teachers alike.”
The Food Champs website also directs adults to the Fruits & Veggies-More Matters consumer website, www.FruitsAndVeggiesMoreMatters.org, for user-friendly cooking advice, nutrition information and a recipe database with more than 1,000 recipes, many of which can be made in 30 minutes or less. There's even a section of kid-friendly recipes designed specifically to appeal to, and be prepared by, children.
The Baylor study will be published in the January 2011 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine in an article titled “Video Game Play, Child Diet, and Physical Activity Behavior Change - A Randomized Clinical Trial.”
Produce for Better Health Foundation is a non-profit fruit and vegetable education foundation.