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Games Health J. 2018 Oct 19. doi: 10.1089/g4h.2018.0070. [Epub ahead of print]

Nutrition Education and Dietary Behavior Change Games: A Scoping Review.

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1 Department of Pediatrics, USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center , Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas.
2 Bouvé College of Health Sciences, Northeastern University , Boston, Massachusetts.
3 Health Technology Lab, Department of Communication Studies, College of Arts, Media & Design, Bouvé College of Health Sciences, Northeastern University , Boston, Massachusetts.
4 Department of Health Sciences, Bouvé College of Health Sciences, Northeastern University , Boston, Massachusetts.


Games provide an attractive venue for engaging participants and increasing nutrition-related knowledge and dietary behavior change, but no review has appeared devoted to this literature. A scoping review of nutrition education and dietary behavior change videogames or interactive games was conducted. A systematic search was made of PubMed, Agricola, and Google Scholar. Information was abstracted from 22 publications. To be included, the publication had to include a videogame or interactive experience involving games (a videogame alone, minigames inserted into a larger multimedia experience, or game as part of a human-delivered intervention); game's design objective was to influence dietary behavior, a psychosocial determinant of a dietary behavior, or nutrition knowledge (hereinafter referred to as diet-related); must have been reported in English and must have appeared in a professional publication, including some report of outcomes or results (thereby passing some peer review). This review was restricted to the diet-related information in the selected games. Diversity in targeted dietary knowledge and intake behaviors, targeted populations/audiences, game mechanics, behavioral theories, research designs, and findings was revealed. The diversity and quality of the research in general was poor, precluding a meta-analysis or systematic review. All but one of the studies reported some positive outcome from playing the game(s). One reported that a web-based education program resulted in more change than the game-based intervention. Studies of games may have been missed; a number of dietary/nutrition games are known for which no evaluation is known; and the data presented on the games and research were limited and inconsistent. Conclusions and Implications: A firmer research base is needed to establish the efficacy and effectiveness of nutrition education and dietary behavior change games.


Dietary behavior change; Games; Nutrition education; Scoping


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