Winners Of Kids' Computer Game Take Home Better Diet
in front of a computer, fourth-graders battled snakes and
moles to save the kingdom -- and improved their diets in the
A multimedia game developed by CNRC behavioral nutrition
researchers successfully increased the fruit and vegetable
consumption of elementary school students.
"Students who played 'Squire's Quest!' were eating an
extra serving a day of fruit, juice or vegetables after five
weeks," said Dr. Thomas Baranowski, the study's lead
author and a professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of
Medicine. "This interactive game worked in educating
kids about nutrition needs in a fun way."
The results of the study were published in the American Journal
of Preventive Medicine.
Nutrition experts and educators need innovative programs
to increase the fruit, juice and vegetable intake of children,
which is lower than the recommended five servings a day, Baranowski
In Squire's Quest!, the kingdom of 5ALot is invaded by snakes
and moles attempting to destroy the fruit and vegetable crops.
The king and queen enlist the help of squires who face challenges
related to eating more fruits, juice and vegetables.
The student 'squires' gained points by preparing recipes
in a virtual kitchen. At the end of the session, the students
set goals of making that recipe at home, eating another serving
of fruit, juice or vegetables at a meal or as a snack or asking
for a favorite fruit, juice or vegetable to be more available
In the next session of the game, the child was rewarded with
points if the goal was met.
"Children need to be exposed to the five-a-day message
in multiple ways, and the message must be repeated several
times throughout childhood," he said.
The study involved 1,578 students, divided into a participating
group and a control group. Four days of dietary intake were
assessed before and after the start of the 10-session game.
"It appears that the fun aspect of the program kept
the attention of the students and led to the change in eating
habits," Baranowski said.