Encouraging children to create their own comic books with super heroes giving healthy messages can help fight childhood obesity, indicates a University of Cincinnati research project.
The project was the doctoral research of Paul Branscum, who recently completed his PhD in health education from the UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH).
The project challenged 71 third, fourth and fifth-grade students to create their own comic books with healthy messages in mind. Branscum said early results indicate that the children were adopting those healthy behaviours.
Students were inspired to think of real and fictional characters as they wrote their stories, plus, they were encouraged to blend the following four healthy behaviours into their creations as well as their lifestyles:
Participate in at least one hour of daily physical activity.
Consume five daily servings of fruits and vegetables.
Consume sugar-free drinks and water instead of sugar-sweetened drinks.
Participate in no more than two hours of screen time per day - including TV, the Internet and video games.
Branscum said the children's Body Mass Index (BMI) remained about the same following the project. However, he said three behaviours - consuming more fruits and vegetables, physical activity and consuming water and sugar-free drinks - "increased significantly throughout the program."
"Comic books can do a lot of neat things," Branscum said.
"One of the things that I like about them is that they can explain complicated issues in a way that people can understand, by combining words and pictures," Branscum added.