Not eating enough veg? There’s an app for that
Australian researchers find game-playing improves diet.
A new study by Australia’s national science agency, the CSIRO, has found that games incorporated into a smartphone app might be the solution to tackling Australia’s inadequate consumption of vegetables.
Having observed the dinner habits of nearly 200,000 Australians since 2015, CSIRO researchers found that majority of them were woefully short of the daily dose of five vegetables recommended by the Australian Dietary Guidelines.
This led to the development of an app called VegEze, aimed at people who need coaxing to make a lifestyle change. CSIRO worked in conjunction with SP Health, a digital marketing company, and Hort Innovation, a non-profit, government-funded, Australian grower-owned company that advocates for horticulturists.
A game called “Do 3 at Dinner” was incorporated into the app and formed part of a research study, which challenged users to eat three vegetables with their evening meal for 21 days. It also allowed tracking of intake, and came equipped with encouraging reminders and rewards to keep users motivated.
The results show that of the 4000 people who downloaded the app and participated in the trial, 80% achieved the three-veg goal. The most significant increase in vegetable consumption was among obese people, men in particular, who upped their intake by 30%.
The scientists conducting the study found it encouraging that technology could be used to induce positive changes in the habits of people, particularly those at risk of disease. It also provided vegetable growers insight into the eating habits of their consumers.
If you feel that you, a friend or family member could benefit from joining the challenge, download the free app here, or find out more about the on-going study.