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Southampton Health Technology Assessments CentreNews

New digital game to help teenagers eat better and exercise more- SHTAC is part of a new research project led by the University of Southampton

Published: 23 August 2017
Teenagers using technology smartly
LifeLab pupils to develop digital game to help teenagers eat better and get active

SHTAC is conducting a cost-effectiveness analysis to estimate the costs and health effects associated with a new gaming platform that aims to encourage teenagers to each healthily and be more physically active.

Unhealthy diet and lack of physical activities cost billions of pounds to the NHS every year and are responsible for early deaths in many. To address these issues, researchers at the Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit at the University of Southampton are aiming to develop and test an intervention that encourages teenagers to eat better and stay active. This research project aims to educate young people about making healthy choices early on in their lives by involving family, friends and teachers, through the medium of an interactive smartphone application. The project is funded by a £2.2m grant from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Programme Grant for Applied Research Programme

The research targets the teenage population as habits formed during this phase often continue into adulthood and have life-long impacts. Adopting positive healthy lifestyle behaviours early on will reduce the risk of a number of health complications such as cardiovascular diseases or diabetes in later life.

As part of this research intervention, teenagers across Southampton who are participating in the LifeLab programme (a unique three week teaching module linked to the National Curriculum, which helps 13-14 year olds think about science and their health) will be asked to create a new gaming platform working alongside health researchers, scientists and professional game developers that will encourage them to improve their diet and be physically active.

SHTAC is involved in two stages: first, designing a health economic model to evaluate costs and health effects of diet and physical activity interventions for adolescents and secondly, using the results of a randomised controlled trial to assess the cost-effectiveness of the new digital gaming platform in improving quality of diet and physical activity levels of secondary school students.

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