Early intervention:  encourage nutritional and healthy eating habits in young children and their parents through mobile app gamification      

Gamification Design for Nutritional-Healthy Eating Application

This project has been inspired by the NTUC Bright Horizon Fund (BHF) which aims to ensure that children from low-income families do not get left behind by targeting interventions related to reading, healthy eating, financial support, and several other forms of support. Studies have shown that healthy eating habits inculcated in children at a young age may persist into adulthood – to support BHF’s efforts in raising awareness of nutritional values of food and inspire healthy eating habits, a group of SIT faculty came together with BHF and exchanged ideas on how meaningful behavioural changes in eating and food purchases could be encouraged in both children and parents.  

The faculty decided to propose gamification for BHF’s mobile app to encourage pre-schoolers to learn about nutritional food and cost-effective healthy diets and to develop good eating habits together with their parents. The idea has since evolved into a multi-disciplinary project. The team behind the project are Mr Oran Zane Devilly, Assoc Prof Tan Chek Tien and Mr Dan Chia from Infocomm Technology,  Assoc Prof Wang Mei Yin from Chemical Engineering and Food Technology and Asst Prof Verena Tan from Health and Social Sciences.  

Students in Mr Oran’s ICT4004 Design Thinking class in the Infocomm Technology cluster started work on their gamification design in May 2021. To ensure that information on food storage and handling of raw food ingredients and cooked food proposed for the app are relevant and accurate, students from the Food Technology programme shared their food safety-related knowledge with the ICT students. To ensure the right messaging to the app users, students from the Dietetics and Nutrition programme also supported the project by providing information on affordable and nutritious foods, appropriate eating habits as well as fun facts on food. 

BHF Gamification Design

The project is an initial proof of concept for the gamification element which is a crucial part of the app design to capture interaction rather than providing static information on nutrition and to influence healthy eating behaviours among the young app users. At the same time, it acts as a reminder for parents to select healthier selections of food choices for their families.