PSU news by
Penn State's student blog



Professor Creates Video Game To Encourage Healthy Eating

An assistant professor in Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology has commenced research to investigate how virtual games can teach young children about healthy eating habits. The professor, Erika Poole, hopes that the unconventional strategy will help prevent childhood obesity.

“Games are a promising approach with kids, so we want to see if it’s effective in teaching them healthy habits early,” said Poole in a Penn State news article.

In addition to holding an academic position in IST, Poole is also a member of Penn State’s Center for Integrated Healthcare Delivery Systems. Previously, she has conducted research on the use of text message interventions for smokers and the concept of “exergaming” — video games that include a physical component — for adolescents.

To study the possible positive effects of gaming on kids’ perceptions of healthy eating, an actual game had to be created. That’s where Poole brought in Penn State research assistants and outside contractors to help bring the game to life. The end product was an iPad game, in which kids are faced with a variety of different situations about healthy eating. One of these situations, for example, requires the gamer to jump and grab healthy food items while avoiding junk food.

Though the game is fun, Poole and her research team hope that it will have unintended positive results.

“Kids don’t always understand long-term consequences in real life,” said Kathleen Keller, one of the nutrition assistant professors on the research team. “But succeeding or losing in a video game is something immediate they can understand. Eventually, those lessons can extend into real life.”

Since the game has already been tested in a lab, Poole hopes to move her research into the next stage. That involves having children ages seven to 11 play the iPad game several times a week at home. Poole hopes to understand if the game actually changes the kids’ interactions with food and healthy choices.


About the Author

Anna Foley

Anna is a senior majoring in Communication Arts & Sciences and Spanish with a minor in Theatre. Yes, she went to Spain. Follow her half-funny thoughts @exfoleyator and send her chain emails at [email protected]


More by Anna

I’ve Found My Voice: Anna Foley’s Senior Column

I can only thank Penn State, the people I met here, and the experiences I had in this place for giving me my voice.

Here Are Your Final Four Line Dances

How Long We Wait For Water In The BJC


Penn State Women’s Soccer Sophomores Start Season Strong

Kerry Abello, Shea Moyer, and Frankie Tagliaferri combined to score four of Penn State’s seven goals during opening weekend.

Penn State Women’s Soccer Beats Duquesne 6-0

Shea Moyer Lifts Penn State Women’s Soccer Past West Virginia 1-0

Penn State Women’s Soccer Poised For Strong 2018 Season

Incoming Penn State Track & Field Athlete Kristian Marche Shot To Death In Philadelphia

Student Life

Your Fall 2018 Sylly Week Playlist

Whether this is your first semester or last, welcome to Sylly Week.

While You Were Gone…

Involvement Fair Returns To HUB Lawn Syllabus Week

Plans Submitted For New KFC In State College

Developers have submitted preliminary land development plans to build a new KFC restaurant at 1780 S. Atherton St. in State College.

Join Onward State: Fall 2018 Application

Onward State is hiring for the fall semester and we’d love to have you join us.

While You Were Gone…

Here’s a roundup of what went on around Penn State during summer break.

Be the first to know

  • Top posts and the best Penn State stories

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Assessing Penn State’s Front Seven Following Tuesday’s Medical Retirements

Penn State’s defensive line rotation will be shaken up following Ryan Buchholz’s medical retirement from football, while the coaching staff is letting the linebackers duel it out during camp.

Send this to a friend