Have you been to a farmer’s market this year? If so, you might enjoy the mobile intervention that researchers from the University of Western Ontario, Michigan State University, Brescia University College, and Wilfrid Laurier University, used to help people increase healthy eating habits- including eating local food.
The researchers developed the Smart APPitite smartphone app to help people develop healthy eating habits, and purchase locally grown food. In their study, they recruited people from local farmer’s markets that drew as many as 2,500 people.
This app involved sending notifications with URL links to participants that suggested healthy eating tips, and recipes. Further, participants used the app to “check-in” while they were at farmers’ markets.
When at the farmer’s market, Smart APPitite sent them a suggestion for healthy eating like usual, and then directed them to a vendor that sold an item that helped them eat more healthfully. For example, one prompt was, “Looking for a good source of protein, fiber, and omega-3’s? Visit Kosuma upstairs for tasty, high-quality energy bars!”
People who engaged closely with the app reported eating more “fruits, vegetables, and homemade meals,” and fewer “fruit juices, soft drinks, diet soft drinks, sugary food, fast food, and prepared meals.
This study shows that a mobile app can be effective in promoting behavioral change, such as buying healthy foods, and from farmer’s markets.
In the future, the researchers want to see if the app can instill long-term healthy eating change in people.
Maybe you can design an app experience that can promote healthy behavior change, too!
Gilliland, J., Sadler, R., Clark, A., O’Connor, C., Milczarek, M., & Doherty, S. (2015). Using a Smartphone Application to Promote Healthy Dietary Behaviours and Local Food Consumption. BioMed Research International, 2015.