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Using digital interventions to encourage healthy eating

02 December 2021
14 min read
Volume 2 · Issue 6

Abstract

Background:

YouTube content has become increasingly popular among children who are not only viewers but producers of this digital medium However, there is no research exploring the use of this medium to aid healthy behaviours.

Aims:

To evaluate how families responded to taking part in an online educational healthy eating intervention by creating YouTube-style digital vlogs.

Methods:

The intervention was delivered online to five families with child/ren aged between 6–16 years. Focus groups were conducted with the families after the intervention to explore their learning and experiences.

Findings:

The families indicated initial challenges in making the vlogs, however, there was evidence of child attitude change and sustained behavioural change as well as enhanced awareness for parents. The families produced vlogs which aimed to educate on and provide a challenge for healthy eating.

Conclusions:

This intervention shows great potential for delivering online public health interventions which engage the whole family in behavioural change.

Obesity among children and young people has been recognised as a serious and urgent challenge because of the lifelong consequences on health and wellbeing (World Health Organization [WHO], 2016). The global epidemic can be explained by a multitude of environmental factors (Soliman and Huang, 2018). However, excessive sugar intake, increased portion size, and a decline in physical activity have been playing major roles in rising rates around the world (Sahoo et al, 2015). In England it is estimated that 1 in 5 children aged 4–5 years and 1 in 3 children aged 10–11 years are overweight or obese (Department of Health [DH], 2018). Additionally, evidence suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown has made this situation worse (Surekha et al, 2021). The rise of e-learning meant an increase in screen time and sedentary lifestyle, and an increase in unhealthy snacking. This needs to be addressed or obesity will lead to profound long-term complications.

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