Story Immersion May Be Effective in Promoting Diet and Physical Activity in Chinese Children

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Abstract

Objective:

To evaluate the effect of playing a health video game embedded with story immersion, Escape from Diab (Diab), on children's diet and physical activity (PA) and to explore whether children immersed in Diab had greater positive outcomes.

Design:

Two groups, nonrandomized; 3 outcome assessments: at baseline, immediately after the game (post 1), and 8–10 weeks after the game (post 2).

Participants:

A total of 179 Chinese children aged 8–12 years.

Intervention:

The treatment group played Diab; the control group received no intervention.

Main Outcome Measures:

Motivation; self-efficacy; preference for fruit, vegetables, water, and PA; as well as PA behavior.

Analysis:

Adjusted changes to post 1 and post 2 by ANCOVA controlling for demographic and baseline variables.

Results:

Children who played Diab had increased intrinsic motivation for fruit and water, self-efficacy for PA, and self-reported PA scores at post 1 (all P < .05). Children with higher immersion scores (above the median) had increased intrinsic motivation for fruit and water, and autonomous and controlled motivation for PA at post 1 (all P < .05). However, these were not significant at post 2.

Conclusions and Implications:

Diab provides a promising innovative medium for promoting Chinese children's psychological correlates of diet and PA and PA behavior. However, its maintenance of effectiveness needs to be enhanced and mechanisms of change need to be investigated more thoroughly.

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