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Countdown to Medicine X: Mobile gardening game promotes healthy eating

Obesity rates among children in the United States have more than tripled in the past three decades. Researchers around the country are working to develop ways to curb the childhood obesity epidemic, including a team from the University of Southern California that will be presenting later this month at the Stanford Medicine X conference. The inaugural conference takes place this Sept. 28-30.

During the three-day conference, USC researcher Donna Spruijt-Metz, PhD, will present findings on an interactive, mobile game designed to teach children gardening skills and encourage them to eat healthily. An abstract on the Medicine X site describes the game, titled "Virtual Sprouts":

Virtual Sprouts has the potential to revolutionize Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education on obesity, promote healthy food choices and decrease obesity rates in youth. In their web-based garden, children and families will learn to select what crops to plant, plant their own garden, watch it grow, tend the crops, harvest them, and prepare them as part of a healthy diet. Our goal is to positively influence dietary intake and prevent/treat obesity in minority youth through meaningful play. Virtual Sprouts brings a novel combination of technology and teaching to bear on pediatric obesity in urban Los Angeles, and will employ interactive, mobile game techniques, rich narrative, a pedagogical agent, and experiential learning to achieve the aims of the program. To date, we have employed extensive iterative playtesting methodologies to determine optimal game mechanics, and community participatory research techniques to ensure that content and form are optimized to fit community and research needs.

For more information on the conference or to register, visit the Medicine X conference website.

More news about the Medicine X conference is available in the Medicine X category.

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