Research Study Abstract

Methodology of an exercise intervention program using social incentives and gamification for obese children

  • Published on June 3, 2019

Traditional exercise [supervised exercise (SE)] intervention has been proved to be one of the most effective ways to improve metabolic health. However, most exercise interventions were on a high-cost and small scale, moreover lacking of the long-term effect due to low engagement. On the other hand, it was noteworthy that gamification and social incentives were promising strategies to increase engagement and sustain exercise interventions effects; as well as mobile technologies such as WeChat also can provide an appropriate platform to deploy interventions on a broader, low-cost scale. Thus, we aim to develop a novel exercise intervention (‘S&G exercise intervention’) that combines SE intervention with gamification and social incentives design through WeChat, with the aim of improving metabolic health and poor behaviors among overweight and obesity children.

We propose a randomized controlled trial of a ‘S&G exercise intervention’ among 420 overweight and obese children who have at least one marker of metabolic syndrome. Children will be randomized to control or intervention group in a 1:1 ratio. The exercise intervention package includes intervention designs based on integrated social incentives and gamification theory, involving targeted essential volume and intensity of activity (skipping rope) as well as monitoring daily information and providing health advice by WeChat. Participants will undertake assessments at baseline, at end of intervention period, in the follow-up time at months 3,6,12. The primary outcome is outcome of metabolic health. Secondary outcomes include behavioral (e.g., diary physical activity, diet) and anthropometric measures (e.g., body fat rate and muscle mass).

This will be the first study to design an exercise intervention model that combines traditional supervised exercise (SE) intervention with gamification and social incentives theory through WeChat. We believed that this study could explore a low-cost, easy-to-popularize, and effective exercise intervention model for improving metabolic health and promote healthy among obese children. Furthermore, it will also provide important evidence for guidelines to prevent and improve metabolic health and health behaviors.


  • Yue Fang 1
  • Yunsheng Ma 2
  • Dandan Mo 1
  • Shunxing Zhang 3
  • Mi Xiang 1
  • Zhiruo Zhang 1


  • 1

    School of Public Health, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, 200025, China

  • 2

    Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA, 01655, USA

  • 3

    Scarsdale High School, Scarsdale, NY, 10583, USA


BMC Public Health

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