As you know, my substantive research interest is ‘digital health’. This is a broad and increasingly relevant field as more technologies and technological possibilities emerge for health in both consumer markets as well as clinical and research toolkits – on an almost daily basis.
Among a number of exciting projects on this topic, which I’m either leading or involved with, I’m currently working with Aberdeen University MSc Human Nutrition student, Lainey Gauson (aka the_approachable_nutritionist on Insta), on hers, which is exploring nutrition apps for nutrition research.
Lainey is analysing the potential of smartphone app based alternatives to traditional paper diaries for participants contributing to nutrition research – for ease of use from the outset and throughout their participation (recruitment and retention of participants to and in studies is notoriously difficult and apps vs. paper diaries might improve experiences for research participants and thus help researchers to capture more accurate and complete information).
I’m not convinced, despite being a #quantifiedself for over half my lifetime now:
Watch this space for opportunities to participate in Lainey’s study (online survey and follow up focus groups for public and professionals) to have your say on nutrition studies and apps…
My contribution so far has been: #cba (*can’t be arsed). This is not about taking part in her research, but rather filling out the food diaries full stop. This wasn’t always the case. As a teenager, I used a paper version with a calorie counter book. I subsequently tried apps, but gave up. I tend to track in my head as the day progresses. And I think I overestimate. hmm (also my initials – convenient)
Through meetings with Lainey, I’ve reflected on this and my disaffection with MyFitnessPal. I’ve avoided clicking on the Noom suggestions I get through social media… But I volunteered to take part in a research project using an online tool, Intake24, this week – just to push myself. I was not relishing the prospect, but did complete one day’s entry in full for 13 June (at the end of 14 June, reluctantly, but impressed – it was a better experience than I’d anticipated). I have another one to do on 28 June. Not too onerous?? Doing a whole day recall though is a bit of a pain rather than real-time. Anyway…
Meantime, I considered the idea of thinking beyond calories (my measure of choice) to thinking about food composition and especially my fibre intake (Lainey’s office mate is studying this and said we need to have 30g/day – please correct if I heard this wrong. MyFitnessPal says 25g??). I was curious… so I reverted back to MyFitnessPal for that reason today – to see how my food intake is composed… I was pleasantly surprised. Is it right?? I don’t know. I just quite liked considering measures other than calories 🙂