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Tara Cousineau

Targeting e-health Obesity Prevention for Youth: Balancing Evidence Based-Approaches with Audience Appeal

Tara Cousineau

Debra L. Franko
Northeastern University, Boston, MA

Topic: e-besity interventions
Track: Practice
Type: Oral presentation

     Full text: Not available
     Last modified: July 26, 2006
     Presentation date: 10/18/2006 2:15 PM in CGEI Telehealth Room
     (View Schedule)

With increasing access to computers and the Internet across all age groups, obesity prevention programs are beginning to expand into online modalities. The opportunity to reach children and adolescent via online programming has arrived. Consider that 99% of US public schools now have access to the Internet and 59% of children and adolescents (5-17 years old) go online daily. Use of the Internet capitalizes on the wide availability of computers and Internet connections at schools, while offering students private, self-paced, and tailored health information. The climate is particularly ripe for addressing nutrition in youth. Indeed, the high prevalence of overweight and obese children in industrialized nations has become a major concern. In the US, for example, the percentage of overweight school-age children has nearly quadrupled in the last 30 years. This is largely due to poor diet and physical inactivity. It is important to recognize that in the majority of cases, obesity is a preventable health condition. In response to the obesity epidemic, national prevention campaigns have been developed, e.g., “Five A Day for Better Health” is sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, the CDC, and the fruit and vegetable industry, and encourages Americans to eat at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables (F&V) per day. Efforts to support this campaign are important, based on the well documented association between diet and life threatening, yet preventable, health conditions.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of children do not consume the recommended five servings of F&V per day. On average, children eat 2.8 servings of vegetables and fruits combined per day. The question prevails, however, how can educational settings be maximized to encourage the current generation of children to engage in healthy eating behaviors in a way that appeals to them? One way is via the Internet. This workshop will address integrating technology with nutrition education and obesity prevention by introducing participants to three Internet-based programs, each developed for a specific youth segment. In this workshop strategies for program development and evaluation will be addressed. Applications to other health promotion areas of interest to participants involved in program development for youth will be addressed.

Educational Goals:
The focus of this workshop will be to describe three online prevention programs designed to increase healthy eating as models for e-health interventions. With funding from the National Institutes of Health, these programs include: Trouble on the Tightrope: In Search of Skateboard Sam, a fully animated mystery game geared toward 5th and 6th grade school children to promote a healthy lifestyle and body image; Jive for Five, a online program to promote increased F&V intake in high school aged children, and MyStudentBody.com/Nutrition, a comprehensive online program to promote healthy nutrition and physical activity in college students. All three programs make use of computer-mediated messaging and feedback to personalize, target and tailor relevant health information to the individual and are designed to appeal to each youth segment. The development of these programs included significant input from children, teachers and health professionals to ensure program quality and appeal. Participants will:

1. Learn the latest information on prevention programs in nutrition and obesity and the advantages of using online technology across age groups;
2. Gain knowledge about formative research that engages the target audience and informs program development;
3. Gain knowledge about e-tailoring approaches and messaging for youth and the importance of interactivity as represented by three programs in obesity prevention and nutrition education.

Attendees: Those with an interest in e-health promotion initiatives with youth audiences, health professionals and researchers, and product developers. Level of content: intermediate.

Prerequisites: none. Audiovisual: LCD, Internet-access

Ref: A similar workshop geared toward prevention of eating disorders has been developed for the 2006 International Conference on Eating Disorders, Academy of Eating Disorders, Barcelona, Spain, June 8, 2006, entitled: Decreasing Risk for Eating Disorders across the Developmental Spectrum: Multimedia Tools for Children, Adolescents, and College Students by Debra L. Franko, Ph.D. and Tara M. Cousineau, Ph.D.

This is a tutorial - thus extra payment through http://www.mednetcongress.org/tutorialsandpreconferences.php before Sept 13, 2006 is required! This tutorial can be booked by Mednet registrants, but can also be booked by non-Mednet participants.

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