The interactive and engaging nature of serious games (i.e., video games designed for educational purposes) enables deeper learning and facilitates behavior change; however, most do not specifically support the dissemination of national dietary guidelines, and there are limited data on their impact on child nutrition knowledge. The Foodbot Factory serious game mobile application was developed to support school children in learning about Canada's Food Guide; however, its impacts on nutrition knowledge have not been evaluated. The objective of this study was to determine if Foodbot Factory effectively improves children's knowledge of Canada's Food Guide, compared to a control group (control app). This study was a single-blinded, parallel, randomized controlled pilot study conducted among children ages 8-10 years attending Ontario Tech University day camps. Compared to the control group (n = 34), children who used Foodbot Factory (n = 39) had significant increases in overall nutrition knowledge (10.3 ± 2.9 to 13.5 ± 3.8 versus 10.2 ± 3.1 to 10.4 ± 3.2, p < 0.001), and in Vegetables and Fruits (p < 0.001), Protein Foods (p < 0.001), and Whole Grain Foods (p = 0.040) sub-scores. No significant difference in knowledge was observed in the Drinks sub-score. Foodbot Factory has the potential to be an effective educational tool to support children in learning about nutrition.
Keywords: Canadian children; digital interventions; healthy eating; nutrition education; nutrition knowledge; serious games.