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Effectiveness of a mobile phone intervention to promote dietary change

Dates : 2010 – 2012

Aims/Objectives:

  1. To develop a mobile phone tool for collecting and uploading of food intake data (images and text) to a server and test the delivery system for text messaging (with images).
  2. To test key nutrition messages to promote behaviour change using a mobile phone.
  3. To conduct an intervention using a mobile phone to collect food intake data, provide dietary feedback  and on-going tailored nutrition messages to promote dietary change.

Project Details

Studies have linked poor diet quality and lack of variety with increased incidence of chronic diseases such as heart disease and some cancers. Increasing fruit and vegetable intake, decreasing total dietary fat and modifying the types of fats (less saturated fat) are dietary priorities to prevent chronic disease. Teenagers and young adults have the lowest fruit intake (when juice is excluded), while for vegetables (when potatoes are excluded) about half of all adults eat less than is recommended. In addition, young adults consume 36 % of their energy intake from “junk food” . Therefore improving diet quality is a high priority. The issue however is how best to measure food intake as young adults in particular are the least likely to participate in traditional methods of assessing diets such as with a food record. A mobile phone food record may appeal to technology savvy young adults but requires the development of software and a web interface to ensure rapid analysis and feedback. Mobiles can also be used to send messages to support dietary behaviours. This innovative approach forms the basis of this application with the goal of promoting changes in dietary behaviour in young adults.

Researchers/Principal Investigators:

Associate Professor Deborah Kerr, Dr Christina Pollard, Professor Peter Howat, Associate Professor Carol Boushey (Purdue University), Professor Edward Delp (Purdue University), Associate Professor Satvinder Dhaliwhal, Associate Professor Mark Pickering (The University of New South Wales), Ms Janine Wright, Mr Steve Pratt (Cancer Council WA)

Funding Body: Healthway Health Promotion Research Grant