TUESDAY, May 25, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Gamification interventions designed to enhance support or competition each significantly increase physical activity among adults with uncontrolled type 2 diabetes versus controls, according to a study published online May 24 in JAMA Network Open.

Mitesh S. Patel, M.D., from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues tested the effectiveness of behaviorally designed gamification interventions (one year long) to enhance support, collaboration, or competition to promote physical activity and weight loss among 361 adults with overweight and uncontrolled type 2 diabetes. Randomization was roughly equal for the four arms: control (24.1 percent), gamification with support and intervention (25.4 percent), gamification with collaboration (26.3 percent), and gamification with competition (24.1 percent).

The researchers found that compared with the control group, there was a significant increase in mean daily steps from baseline among participants receiving gamification with support (adjusted difference versus control group: 503 steps) and competition (606 steps) but not collaboration (280 steps). All trial arms demonstrated significant reductions in weight and hemoglobin A1c levels from baseline, but there were no significant differences between any of the intervention arms and the control arm. There was only one adverse event (arthritic knee pain) reported that may have been related to the trial.

“Gamification designed to incorporate behavioral insights and enhance either competition or support resulted in increases in physical activity in this randomized clinical trial but may need to be combined with other interventions to promote weight loss or changes in glycemic control,” the authors write.

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