Background: Nutrition education during childhood plays a substantial role in promotion of healthy eating habits throughout the life. We aimed to assess the effect of a newly designed game-based nutrition education program on nutritional knowledge of preschool children.
Methods: An experimental study was conducted at eight kindergartens from various socioeconomic levels in Shiraz, Iran. Forty-eight children aged 5 to 6 years old were recruited to the study. We developed a computer-game containing health improving nutritional messages, based on snake and ladder game. The intervention period of game playing was 20 minutes per day for a week. All children were asked to complete a questionnaire, including 9 questions designed for their age group, before and after playing the game. Also, we assessed the acceptance of the game among the experimental group.
Results: Forty-seven children including 27 boys and 20 girls completed the study (23 in the experiment and 24 in the control groups). The mean age of participants was 5.71±0.41 years. Baseline scores of nutritional knowledge were significantly more in high socioeconomic regions. The mean score of nutritional knowledge in experimental and control groups improved significantly (0.73±1.62 and 0.52±1.78, respectively). Considering the baseline mean score as covariate, the mean score of nutritional knowledge significantly increased in the experiment group. The results showed that all children preferred to select more healthy foods after playing game. Moreover, the experimental group was interested in playing the game in 3 levels; low (8.7%), high (52.2%), and very high (39.1%).
Conclusion: This new game-based educational approach may simplify the education in preschool children and enhance their nutritional knowledge.