Videogames may help youths make better lifestyle decisions

The obesity epidemic has spread to preteens and young adults in recent years. Some adolescents have even been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. However, a team of researchers is reporting that videogames may help combat this development.

Writing in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, a group of investigators from the U.S. Department of Agriculture said that two specially designed games were shown to help children learn to make healthier food and lifestyle choices that may enable them to gain better control of their weight. This could significantly reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes.

Development of the games was funded by the National Institutes of Health. Researchers said that the two games, called Diab and Nanoswarm, could make an impact on children's exercise and dietary habits because they were designed to be as entertaining as commercial games.

"Diab and Nanoswarm were designed as epic video game adventures, comparable to commercial quality video games," said Tom Baronowski, who led the investigation. "These games incorporated a broad diversity of behavior change procedures woven in and around engrossing stories. The games motivated players to substantially improve diet behaviors."

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