A computer game developed by behavioural nutrition researchers helps children consume more fruits and vegetables, according to new research.

Elementary school students who played the game, called “Squire’s Quest”, soon began eating an extra serving of fruit or vegetables a day, according to Tom Baranowski, the study’s lead scientist and a professor of paediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, which carried out the research in cooperation with Texas Children’s Hospital and the Agricultural Research Service.

In the game, the “Kingdom of 5ALot” is invaded by snakes and moles attempting to destroy the fruit and vegetable crops. The king and queen enlist the help of student “squires”, who face challenges related to drinking more juices, and eating more fruits and vegetables, the Agricultural Research Service said.

At the end of the session, the students set a goal such as eating another serving of fruit, juice or vegetable at a meal or snack, or asking for a favourite fruit, juice or vegetable to be more available at home. In the next session of the game, the student is rewarded with additional points if the goal was met.

The computer game resulted in a one-serving increase in players’ fruit and vegetable consumption in only five weeks, according to Baranowski.

The results of the study were published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.