Device App Combo Project: Obesity

I work with Adelaide Women and Childens Hospital and have been collaborating in the space of Paediatric Obesity. 

This article gives a good intro to apps in this space. Notes from that article of particular importance for design are below:

1. On the whole, the researchers found that the included apps did a pretty poor job of incorporating recommended behavior recommendations and even worse on behavioral change strategies.

2. For clinicians who deal with pediatric obesity, these findings suggest that a real opportunity remains to be realized in the use of apps to drive healthy behavior change in overweight and obese children. In this study, the researchers have outlined several key recommendations and behavior strategies that should be used – not only can this be an evaluative tool, but it could also serve as a great roadmap for developers and clinicians going forward.

ECOSYSTEM: I have sketched an ecosystem that uses the FITBIT, ARIA weighing scale and MyFitnessPal – as a way to enable a QuantifiedLife program. A Pilot program in this ecosystem involves prepopulating individual MyFitnessPal accounts with ‘normal’ foods (most people have a limited variability in their routine food consumption practices). The task of journalling food is then transformed into accounting for variations – such as a period of ‘fasting’. Or one of eating less ‘quantity’. The DESIGN question for the future is – What will this ecosystem look like in the future?

Device App Combo: The device app combo currently has three components: a FITBIT or other activity monitor (accelerometer, GPS), a weighing scale and an app where the quantitative data is collected. The app (potentially a hybrid app – front end for a website) has minimal functionality, and the website account page has the ability to record more information and set goals. The DESIGN question for the future is – What will this Deivce+App combo look like in the future?

INNOVATION: There is a need for an ecosystem (think iTunes) that works (1). Then there is a need to have a device that measures (2) – that has an extended range (can weigh heavier people), can measure Waist (see below) and picks up other physical symptoms. As a Device+App combo this is a Product Service System.

(Next – to sketch out the Future Scenario of this Innovation-Vision)

Re Waist Measurements – see:

Measuring a person’s waist circumference (WC) is the simplest way to assesscentral obesity. WC has been shown to be one of the most accurate anthropometrical indicators of abdominal fat. It is closely correlated to thewaist to hip ratio (WHR), but is thought to be a more reliable measure of abdominal fat; the WHR can mask the status of abdominal obesity with a disproportionately large hip circumference.

Your waist measurement compares closely with your body mass index (BMI), and is often seen as a better way of checking your risk of developing a chronic disease.

For most people. no matter how tall you are, if your waist measurement is more than 80cm for women and 94cm for men you are at an increased risk of some lifestyle related chronic diseases e.g Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.,+waist+circumference+and+BMI-lp

The Article Details: Child Obes. 2014 Mar 21. [Epub ahead of print]

iPhone App Adherence to Expert-Recommended Guidelines for Pediatric Obesity Prevention.


Abstract Background: Pediatric obesity is a serious and prevalent problem. Smartphone technology, which is becoming increasingly available to children of diverse backgrounds, presents a unique opportunity to instill healthy behaviors before the onset of obesity. Past studies have examined the use of smartphone applications as tools of health behavior modification for adults. The present study examines the content of children’s exercise and nutrition smartphone apps. Method: Sixty-two iPhone apps were identified and coded by two independent raters for adherence to expert-recommended behaviors (e.g., five fruits/vegetables per day) and strategies (e.g., self-monitoring diet/physical activity) for the prevention of pediatric obesity. Results: App behavioral and strategy index scores were uniformly low. Apps were more likely to address expert-recommended behaviors for the prevention of pediatric obesity (93.5%), whereas few apps addressed recommended strategies (20.9%). The most common behaviors addressed included physical activity (53.2%) and fruit/vegetable consumption (48.3%). Other important behaviors (e.g., screen time [1.6%] and family meals together [1.6%]) were rarely addressed. Conclusions: Current children’s diet and exercise apps could be improved with increased adherence to expert-recommended guidelines, especially expert-recommended strategies.


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