Fammeal: A Gamified Mobile Application to Help Healthcare Centers Treat Childhood Obesity

Healthcare centers are ideal settings to identify and motivate parents to adhere to healthier lifestyles in order to reverse their child’s excessive weight. However, such promotions are time- and resource-consuming, and primary health care needs new approaches to engage parents. In this article, we present an app for that purpose, with tailored recommendations for parents regarding young children’s lifestyles (eating, drinking, moving, and sleeping habits) with gamification mechanics for parents, and a serious game for their children, aged 3-6 years. Healthcare center based questionnaires were used to assess parent’s acceptance of the app. We also determined their enrollment and retention rates with a pilot study, in order to test the implementation of a randomized controlled trial (RCT) in the future (pilot trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03881280). In the pilot study, we tested their engagement with the app during a four-week period through a monitoring website. In the acceptance test (n = 13), parents rated the app a median score of seven on a ten-point scale. In the pilot study (n = 21), all parents in the intervention group used the app. The retention rate was 71.4%. This study indicated some areas of improvement related to gaming mechanics in order to increase participation. Healthcare center’s professionals and parents of children with overweight/obesity accepted this innovative approach. In addition, it is feasible to test its impact on children’s lifestyle by conducting an RCT in the future.

Afonso L, Rodrigues R, Reis E, Miller K, Castro J, Parente N, Teixeira C, Fraga A, Torres S. Fammeal: A Gamified Mobile Application for Parents and Children to Help Healthcare Centers Treat Childhood Obesity. IEEE Transactions on Games. 2020 Aug 11;12(4):351-60.

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