VegEze app helps increase vegetable intake

By Nichola Murphy
Monday, 13 November, 2017

Eating the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables everyday can be challenging, but scientists have developed an app called VegEze that aims to encourage Australians to increase their intake of vegetables.

CSIRO’s Healthy Diet Score survey has gathered information on the dietary habits of over 191,000 adults since May 2015. While consuming three different vegetables at dinner was deemed crucial to improving our diet and overall health, further research of 1068 adults revealed that the majority of Australians are not eating enough vegetables due to time constraints, a lack of awareness and low confidence.

“Our research found two out of three Australian adults are not eating enough vegetables, especially as part of their evening meal. It’s time to find more engaging, effective approaches to help break these entrenched diet habits.”

As a result, CSIRO researchers came up with a gamified solution in which users partake in a ‘Do 3 at Dinner’ challenge by incorporating three or more vegetables at dinnertime for 21 days.

The VegEze app helps consumers overcome their poor diet habits by using educational resources such as a visual guide to specific vegetable serve sizes, vegetable recipes and nutritional information. Users can more easily track their vegetable intake and are motivated by daily reminders and rewards.

CSIRO Senior Principal Research Scientist Professor Manny Noakes said: “After just a few weeks using the app every day, users should feel more confident in adding more vegetables to their menu and notice some positive changes to their health and wellbeing.

“The beneficial nutrients and fibre from vegetables can help improve digestion, and fill you up — which can help reduce eating too much unhealthy junk food.”

Information from app users will feed back into CSIRO’s study of Australians’ vegetable consumption and help analyse the app’s effectiveness as an education initiative to improve Australia’s eating patterns.

Developed in partnership with Hort Innovation, the findings from the app will also help Australian farmers cater to changing consumer needs.

According to Hort Innovation Chief Executive John Lloyd, while consumers currently prefer prepacked convenience foods and vegetables like kale and sweet potato, this is expected to change in the future.

“Research such as that generated from this VegEze initiative helps growers stay ahead of trends, while also encouraging Australians to eat well using a wide selection of vegetable options,” said Lloyd.

The technology was developed in collaboration with digital health solution provider SP Health.

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