Tackling Childhood Obesity with Situational Insights on Food Choices

Among the 20 most populous countries, the highest level of obesity among children and young adults was in the United States, at nearly 13%

Studying Obesity in a Holistic Context

Recently, the ScienceDaily published findings of a massive global research project on obesity. Among the many statistics shared was one about childhood obesity. Among the 20 most populous countries, the highest level of obesity among children and young adults was in the United States, at nearly 13%.1  

There are several factors that contribute to obesity in children and adolescents including demographic attributes, genetic disposition, health conditions, lifestyle, food choices and even circumstances or situations that influence eating behavior. As the medical fraternity grapples with this challenge, researchers are developing innovative methods to get a complete picture of how all these factors play together to cause obesity. The end goal is a multi-pronged approach to manage obesity by taking all these factors into account.

Food, Environment and Thinking Goes Mobile

Boston Children’s Hospital came up with a unique concept to gather data from adolescents, not just on their eating habits but also on the environment and frame of mind that influenced their food choices and serving portions.

To gather this data, Boston Children’s Hospital engaged BTC to develop the EatnDrink mobile app that had the adolescent study participants respond to survey questions, record photos and videos of the food and their environment along with text and voice descriptions of their thoughts at the time of food consumption.  The impact of environment and mood on the amount and quality of the food consumed was then extrapolated from this data.

Ease of App Use Was Key for Adolescents

The application was designed to seamlessly capture and transfer the data from the app to a cloud-based, secure data store, with a special emphasis on optimizing heavy media files for a smooth and responsive user experience.

Technology Complexity Made Simple

The app brought together multiple features like voice-to-text conversion, media file-handling, survey administration, geo-location, camera and calendar integration, but the UI/UX was kept simple and easy-to-use keeping the target audience in mind.