A new app has been developed which facilitates healthy eating by helping people reach the recommended target of eating five portions of fruits and vegetables daily. The study backing the efficacy of the app was conducted by Bournemouth University.
Called the SMART-5-A-DAY, this free app was designed specifically to help people better understand food portion sizes, and track the amounts of fruits and vegetables that they eat to contribute towards their daily target. How it works is simple: Users select the fruit or vegetable they have just eaten, and then log how much of it they ate. The app then tells them whether that amount is considered a full or partial portion and how much more would be needed to satisfy that respective portion target. Moreover, the app records a running total of their progress towards their five day target.
“Almost everyone knows they should eat five a day,” said Katherine Appleton, Professor of Psychology at Bournemouth University, who led the studies and the development of the new app via a press release. “But when we looked a little further, it was clear that a lot of people did not know what counts towards the target, they did not know what a portion size is, and many did not realize that they needed to eat five different things.”
“Our studies also showed that lower knowledge was associated with lower consumption of fruits and vegetables,” she added.
A previous study of an earlier prototype version of the SMART 5-A-DAY app found that it benefits users’ eating habits and enhances their understanding of what is needed to reach the daily recommended intake of healthy foods. The new version incorporates the best aspects of previous models with several updates, which researchers hope will positively influence eating habits.
“What is unique about this app is that as well as tracking daily fruit and vegetable intake, it teaches people about portion size, so they get to the point where they know what they need to eat themselves. We think this will be an effective tool to improve people’s diets for the long term, rather than simply for the short period that they use the app,” said Professor Appleton.
The SMART 5-A-DAY app is now available in the Google Play Store for Android phones.