Aussies eating more vegies with smartphone app
Last year, CSIRO launched its VegEze app to encourage Australians to eat more vegetables on a daily basis and improve the nation’s health, and a recent preliminary action report has shown it has been successful.
Since having a diet high in vegetables can reduce the risk of health conditions like cancer, diabetes and heart disease, it is concerning that an estimated 19 million Australians aren’t eating enough vegetables.
The app’s 21-day ‘Do 3 at Dinner’ challenge — which encourages people to eat three types of vegetables during their main meal — uses a gamified approach to address this issue.
More than 4000 people took part in the study, and over 80% of the 900 participants who completed the challenge were ‘always’ or ‘usually’ eating three types of vegetables at dinner by the end of the 21 days. Participants had increased their vegetable intake by 0.3 serves and vegetable variety by 0.7 types.
CSIRO scientist Dr Gilly Hendrie said the findings indicated that the app improved Australia’s poor vegetable consumption, particularly for men and obese participants.
The report’s baseline statistics showed only 9% of male and 16% of female participants met the daily guidelines for vegetable consumption. Hendrie stated: “[The app] resulted in a 10% increase of number of men meeting the guidelines, but interestingly we only saw an increase of 1.4% for women.”
Since men eat fewer vegetables than women, this explains why the app seemingly had a bigger impact on men, adding three-quarters of a serve to their average daily intake of vegetables.
Obese adults in general increased their intake of vegetables by almost half a serve, while obese men performed even better, consuming one extra serve and two extra types of vegetables per day.
“By the end of the challenge, the percentage of obese men that were meeting the Australian Dietary Guidelines vegetable recommendations had increased four times to 30%,” said Hendrie.
These findings indicate that the app had the desired effect. Not only have they shown a largely positive impact on the nation’s consumption of vegetables, but Hort Innovation Chief Executive John Lloyd said they provide a valuable insight into the eating habits of Australians, allowing vegetable growers to better meet consumer demand.
“With this insight into potential gaps in the market, growers can now see where innovations are needed to help Australians eat more vegetables, while giving them the best produce possible.”
Those looking to make healthier food choices can participate in the 21-day challenge by downloading the app. The final report evaluating the impact of the VegEze app will be available in June 2018.
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