A recent study has found that video games – once considered a key contributor to childhood obesity – could actually encourage kids to eat more nutritious foods.
The study was conducted in the U.S., where statistics show that nearly one in five kids between the ages of six and 19 is obese, and found that children who played “serious” video games increased the amount of produce they ate each day by about one serving.
According to Baylor College of Medicine professor Tom Baranowski, who led the study, the games “Escape from Diab” and “Nanoswarm,” which were created to change diet and exercise habits “motivated players to substantially improve diet behaviors.”
“Diab and Nanoswarm were designed as epic video game adventures, comparable to commercial quality video games,” Baranowski said. “These games incorporate a broad diversity of behavior change procedures woven in and around engrossing stories.”
The study found that playing both games several times “had a meaningful effect on dietary fruit and vegetable intake.”
The children who played them, however, did not increase their physical activity, and still were not consuming the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. “Serious video games hold promise, but their effectiveness and mechanisms of change among youth need to be more thoroughly investigated,” Baranowski said.