U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers say teenagers respond to a website featuring animated cartons encouraging teens and preteens to be active and eat healthy foods.
In an article published in the October 2014 issue of the USDA’s Agricultural Research magazine, nutrition and behavioral science researchers Karen Cullen and Deborah Thompson of the ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Center discuss the work on their website.
Titled “Teen Choice: Food and Fitness,” the project was funded by the USDA and created in collaboration more than a hundred young volunteers, according to a news release from the USDA.
The website featured animated cartoon teens learning about nutrition, using messages from the youth to make the site easy to navigate and relevant to the teen audience.
In follow-up research, 400 teen volunteers were asked to visit the site at least once a week for eight weeks, set a nutrition or fitness goal and check their progress weekly, according to the release.
More of the volunteers who had access to the site’s interactive features — including the cartoon videos and a blog — reported eating three or more servings of vegetables in the past week than did volunteers whose didn’t use those options, according to the release.
The scientists hope to make the website publicly available, and have documented the ongoing research in peer-reviewed articles published in 2012 in the Journal of Medical Internet Research and in 2013 in the Health Education Journal, according to the release.