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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Gamification of nutrition: A preliminary study on the impact of gamification on nutrition knowledge, attitude, and behaviour of adolescents in Nigeria

Obidimma Ezezika, Jessica Oh, Ngozi Edeagu, Warami Boyo
Nutrition and Health 2018, 24 (3): 137-144
29974803

BACKGROUND: In Nigeria and many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, the availability of foods that are high in salt, sugar, and saturated fat is steadily increasing. This has led to an increase in the consumption of such foods among Nigerians, particularly among adolescents.

AIM: This pilot study was undertaken to understand whether, and how, gamification of nutrition can have an impact on addressing the problem of unhealthy eating among Nigerian adolescents.

METHODS: Gamification of nutrition through board games, clubs and vouchers was introduced in three secondary schools in Abuja, Nigeria over a span of three to four months. Semi-structured focus groups were conducted with grade 11 and 12 students in the three secondary schools. Participants were asked about their perceptions of the intervention and how it influenced their eating behaviour, attitudes and knowledge about nutrition.

RESULTS: A total of 31 students participated in four focus groups. Participants reported that the intervention shifted their perceptions and preferences, leading them to alter their behaviour by incorporating more nutritious foods (such as fruits and vegetables) into their diet and engaging in more physical activity. Five themes emerged from the analyses: improved eating behaviour; increased physical activity; improved overall well-being; increased nutrition knowledge; and influencing others.

CONCLUSIONS: The results from the focus groups suggest that gamification of nutrition can lead to improvements in dietary behaviour among adolescents over the short-term. More studies are needed to evaluate the long-term effects of nutrition interventions that use gamification techniques.

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