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Shape of Health: An Obesity Prevention Game

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Posted February 2, 2019

The Office on Women’s Health (OWH) is seeking new ways to get health messages out to women and girls. According to the CDC, two out of every three women in the United States are overweight or obese1. This extra weight can lead to many diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and many cancers. Obesity results from a combination of causes and contributing factors, including individual factors such as behavior and genetics. Some examples of behaviors that affect weight include diet, physical activity, inactivity, and stress. Improving behaviors in these areas can help women and girls maintain a healthy weight.

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Furthermore, American children today are increasingly unhealthy at earlier ages. According to the 2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), of girls ages 2-19, 16 percent were overweight and 17.1 percent were obese2. Many children and teens do not eat properly or exercise enough and as a result, childhood obesity and diabetes are increasingly prevalent. Children with obesity may experience immediate health consequences that can lead to weight-related health problems in adulthood. In addition to physical health problems, overweight and obese children can be targets of social discrimination that can lead to low self-esteem and hinder social and academic functioning.

Video games are a unique medium to boost knowledge and skills and can lead to behavior change through exploration of cause and effect in a virtual environment. According to a Robert Wood Johnson project called “Health Games Research,” it was found that digital games can be effective in improving children’s health in multiple health topics including physical fitness, health promotion, and disease management3. Additional evidence suggests adult learning and behavior change is also possible through gaming. A study in JMIR Serious Games found that women with a higher baseline readiness to change experienced improvement in BMI and nutrition with game play4.

Your challenge with this competition is to create an interactive video game with focus on obesity prevention or weight control for women or girls. The game you create will be shared with the general public. The game must address an evidence-based obesity prevention or control strategy. You must show that the game is unlike currently available offerings. The game must be made publically available at no cost as either a web-based or mobile based game available on a widely accessible platform.

For more information about obesity prevention or control strategies and guidelines view the CDC’s resource here: https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/resources/strategies-guidelines.html.

The competition has three phases. All eligible submissions will be evaluated and separate prizes will be awarded for each of the three phases.

Dates: Submissions will be accepted starting January 31, 2019. The submission period for Phase 1 will end on March 31, 2019. The Phase 2 (In-Person Presentation) submission period will be on a date TBD in 2019. The prize winners will be announced at the completion of each phase.

Entries not in compliance with the submission requirements outlined below will be ineligible for further review and prize award. During the open submission period, participants must submit the following information to enter the Shape of Health competition:

Phase 1 (Concept Development) 

The first stage of the competition aims to attract a large range of ideas and game developers. The target submission of the first stage will be the conceptualization of the most promising and/or unique game to help support behavior change around physical activity and/or nutrition to prevent obesity in women or girls. The submissions should aim to demonstrate that the proposed game will be accessible to the general public, developed from evidence-based prevention or control techniques, and engaging for women or girls.

The Phase 1 Submission shall include a comprehensive description of the proposed game in 5 pages or less, including:

  1. A one-paragraph executive summary that clearly states how the game will target obesity prevention or control determinants and be developed for a women or girls audience;
  2. Link evidence to support the obesity determinant chosen and the theoretical basis for the game (will your game change behavior? improve knowledge? something novel? etc.);
  3. A descriptive overview of how the participant arrived at their idea, and why the approach is unlike anything already available;
  4. A draft storyboard of the game that describes the game components; and
  5. An assessment describing the participant’s ability to execute the proposed solution through Phase 2 and to completion.

Your Shape of Health competition concept submission must be uploaded on Challenge.gov.

Participants may also choose to include additional determinants that contribute to obesity not discussed in the provided resources.  If additional determinants are included, the participant should include a short description of how these determinants may contribute to obesity and how this game will addresses these determinants.

Up to 10 selections will be made in Phase 1 to continue on to Phase 2.

Phase 2 (In-person Presentation)

Phase 2 of the competition builds upon the work of Phase 1 and is focused on prototyping the game, and providing an in-person presentation to a panel of judges. The participants should demonstrate both the evidence base for the intervention and its viability.

The in-person presentation must include a description of how the following components are incorporated into the game:

  • Relates to women or girls;
  • Targets a determinant of obesity; and
  • Engages the player

Selected participants must build out the storyboard submitted in Phase 1 to become a visual presentation of game play. The visual presentation of game play must be recorded into a video and available through a private YouTube link. OWH expects that the participants provide an in-person presentation, which includes a demonstration of the recorded presentation of game play.

Submissions must be free of security threats and/or malware. Participants agree that HHS may conduct testing on the submission to determine whether malware or other security threats may be present. HHS may disqualify the submission if, in HHS’ judgment, the software may damage government or others’ equipment or operating environment or if the game, in HHS’ judgment, is inconsistent with HHS’ public health mission, utilizes software or other technologies without appropriate licenses, or any other reason deemed necessary.

The expectation is that each team will use the prize money from Phase 1 for at least one person to travel to Washington, D.C. to deliver the in-person presentation.

Up to 2 selections will be made in Phase 2 to continue on to Phase 3

Phase 3 (final development)

Phase 3 builds upon the work of Phase 2 and is focused on the final development of the proposed game and making it available to the general public. Entrants are required to ensure that proper obesity prevention or control determinants are included in the final game.  Participants are encouraged to discuss the proper obesity prevention or control determinants with OWH in order to make sure that they are included in the final game.

Basis upon Which Winners Will Be Selected: A panel composed of subject-matter experts will judge eligible Shape of Health competition entries.  The panel will make winner selections based upon the criteria outlined below and in compliance with the HHS Competition Judging Guidelines.

One winner may be selected from each category (1 women’s health and 1 girls’ health).

Source: challenge.gov

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