Childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions in recent years and has become the number one challenge among child healthcare providers in the United States. Unhealthy dietary habits and lack of physical activity are among the key factors attributed to increase in overweight and obesity rates among children and adolescents. Obesity is associated with a much higher risk for chronic medical conditions and increasingly diseases among the old like diabetes is becoming commonplace among the young. This growing epidemic may prove to have a tremendous societal impact and may prove to be a colossal economic and health burden in the future if it is not confronted aggressively at this stage. Unfortunately the obesity epidemic has affected the minority and socio economically deprived population in a disproportionate manner. Inner city Latino children and adolescents are being increasingly affected and targeted intervention for this population group is of paramount importance. In this project, we intend to study the role of an immersive video game technology using simulated game- based avatars to educate parents and children simultaneously about the importance of healthy diet and exercise, assess knowledge gained and retention and their change in attitudes towards adoption of a healthier lifestyle. Such an innovative educational model deployed using a bilingual (English/Spanish) videogame format which is a natural draw for this age group will likely capture their attention and be successful in conveying the intended message encouraging adoption of healthy diet and exercise. By encouraging parental participation, knowledge gained is expected to be shared and encourage parent-child discussion thereby fostering a team effort to combat obesity and promote a healthy lifestyle in the family as a whole. The intervention will be specifically tailored to its target population for better acceptance. Our patient population primarily comprises of Mexican-American children and families and issues relating over weight and obesity are most problematic in this population group. A Needs Assessment Survey will be conducted at the start of the project and socio-cultural attributes impacting diet and exercise habits will be assessed. This information will be used to address these specific issues in the game design. If this culturally and linguistically responsive obesity prevention educational intervention for Latino children and families proves a success, future research will focus on making the application easily downloadable on to a mobile internet device for dissemination to a much larger audience. Since the proposed intervention is based on the concepts of cognitive behavior therapy, opportunities for repeat play is likely to reinforce knowledge gain and encourage a positive health behavior change.
Obesity among children and adolescents has become a health emergency in recent years and minority children are disproportionately affected in this epidemic. We propose to study a technology based educational intervention that will use a novel bilingual videogame format to provide education regarding healthy diet and exercise to underserved inner city Latino children and adolescent patients and their parents. The goal of this project is to study the role of an immersive video game technology using simulated game-based avatars to educate parents and children simultaneously about the importance of healthy diet and exercise, assess knowledge gained and retention and their change in attitudes towards adoption of a healthier lifestyle.