SeAnne Safaii and Martha Raid
Introduction: An estimated 25.8 million Americans or 8.3% of the population have diabetes and the incidence of diabetes is increasing most rapidly in children and young adults. Diabetes management includes following a diabetes meal plan, being physically active and possibly taking medications. There is limited diabetes education programs designed for young adults and the virtual world, was used to design a novel diabetes meal planning program that targeted their limited meal preparation skills and their social environment.
Objectives: 1. To develop two virtual world simulations-kitchen equipment and recipe preparation- that would provide individuals with skills they need to prepare meals for dining in at home. 2. To develop two virtual world simulations, in a restaurant and buffet, this teaches them how to choose foods that fit into their meal plan when dining out.
Methods: Data was collected from young adults (18-28 years-old) with type 1 and type 2 diabetes who attended focus groups (n=22) and health care providers in one-on-one interviews (N=5) on the barriers they experienced to following their diabetes meal plan. The four virtual world simulations addressed these barriers.
Results: Focus group and interview results indicate that these individuals were food illiterate – they didn’t have the skills to plan and cook healthy meals. In addition, eating out with friends is an important part of their social life. To help these young adults acquire these crucial meal skills and not have to eliminate their social life, four virtual world settings-kitchen equipment, recipe preparation, restaurant, and buffet-were designed where they could practice diabetes meal planning and recipe preparation.
Conclusion: This project focused on designing virtual world simulations to help young adults (18-28 year-olds), meet their diabetes meal plan recommendations.