Introduction: Prevention of obesity and overweight is an important target for health promotion. Early prevention requires an intervention during childhood and adolescence. At these stages, the game could be an appropriate means to teach nutrition knowledge and to influence dietary behaviour. To this end, the authors developed Kalèdo, a new board-game.
Objective: The aim of the present study was to test the efficacy of Kalèdo on changes in nutrition knowledge and dietary behaviour in a pilot study conducted in three middle schools in Naples, Italy.
Materials and methods: A simple two-group design (treatment and control) with pre- and post-assessment was employed. The classroom was the unit of recruitment and random assignment to groups. All students (307) in the participating schools were invited to participate. Data analysis was performed on 241 subjects. During 24 weeks, a group of 153 children from 8 classrooms (11-14 year old Caucasian subjects; 78 male, 75 female) was involved in 15-30 minute-long play sessions once a week. A questionnaire was given to the participants at the beginning and at the end of the study to evaluate nutrition knowledge (31 questions), physical activity (8 questions) and food intake (34 questions). Anthropometric measurements were also carried out. A second group of 88 children from 5 classrooms (same age and ethnicity; 55 male, 33 female) was investigated at the same times with the same questionnaire and anthropometric measures but they did not receive any play sessions with Kalèdo.
Observation: Children playing Kalèdo showed a significant increase in nutrition knowledge (p<0.05) and in weekly vegetable intake (p<0.01) with respect to the control.
Conclusion: The results suggest that Kalèdo could be an effective instrument to teach children about healthy diet. More research is needed to study the long term effect of this intervention.