Multimedia games are popular among children and provide challenging and exciting opportunities to play. Therefore, such games offer an enjoyable and engaging means for communication of health messages. This review explored the effectiveness of multimedia games in promotion of health and nutrition awareness and/or practices among young children.
Methods: Potentially eligible original research articles were identified through a systematic search of four databases (PubMed, Cochrane Library, ERIC and WHO Virtual Health Library) and hand searching from 1985 and 2016.
Results: A total of 686 articles were identified through initial search, of which 31 were included in qualitative synthesis. Majority of the multimedia games (26 out of 29) led to positive changes in nutrition/ health-related knowledge and/ or practices post gaming sessions. Improvements were observed in knowledge of nutrition and health (oral health, general hygiene, asthma and diabetes management) and practices such as dietary intake, physical activity, asthma management and diabetes self-care behaviours. Measures such as BMI, body fat, vascular function, asthma symptoms and hyperglycemia among diabetics showed significant improvement. Exergames led to improved physical activity behaviours due to their game design. Most effective games were based on theories of learning or behaviour change and included attractive features like stories, rewarding mechanisms (scores, levels and scales), game characters, behaviour change processes (goal setting, problem solving, decision making) and motivational applause. Multimedia games were observed to be more effective than conventional teaching methods for nutrition and health promotion. Play-way learning offered by multimedia games was liked by children and considered entertaining.