EFFECTIVNESS OF NUTRITIONAL APPLICATIONS FOR USE ON MOBILE PHONES
Obesity is dangerous health concern in that it can and often does lead to several other chronic diseases. The number of overweight adults, adolescents and children is increasing on a global scale. An estimated 33% of US adults are overweight, with a BMI of 25 – 29.9 kg/m2, and another 33% are obese with a BMI of 30 – 39.9 kg/m2 . These numbers indicate that more effective methods of reaching nutritional goals are needed. A possible way to fight obesity is by developing more effective nutritional applications, or apps, for smartphones. With the population of people with smartphones growing and the number of health-related apps being developed it may be of significant value to develop an effective app that aids users in reaching their nutritional goals. The purpose of this study was to determine what USD students found effective about nutritional apps or fitness apps with a nutritional component. A questionnaire was completed by 217 graduate and undergraduate students from the University of South Dakota; the questionnaire consisted of demographic questions, in addition to questions regarding the perceived effectiveness of different functions (educational, mindfulness, reward, and social support) of nutritional apps. An analysis of the data revealed that 55% of the students were healthy (BMI of 18.9 and 24.9) and 14% were overweight (BMI of 25 to 29.9). Additionally, a chi-square test regarding which function the students perceived as beneficial in aiding the user in reaching a nutritional goal was significant in that the frequency at which the answers were chosen were not at random. Analysis of the frequency distribution showed that 39% of the participants’ perceived mindfulness as the most beneficial function of nutritional apps and 6% of the participants perceived social support as the most beneficial function of nutritional apps. Nutritional applications for smartphones that focus primarily on mindfulness could be a promising way to decrease the number of overweight individuals. Results from the study also show that the social support function of nutritional apps may play a less important role in aiding users in reaching their nutritional goals.