Welcome to #TRVSTLOVES. We curate news, ideas and inspiration from across the world which demonstrate how real action can accomplish a positive social impact. This time we’re taking a look at apps developed to support good eating habits as well as those that are now taking a more holistic approach to health.
Earlier this month the NHS launched a barcode food scanner to encourage people to make healthier food choices. Developed predominantly for families, the new app allows an item to be scanned to reveal nutritional value, and importantly, can suggest healthier alternatives. There’s also an additional educational slant via an augmented reality feature that helps children to learn more about what they eat.
Apps such as these are being developed in response to the growing trends of childhood obesity. In the UK, almost a “third of children aged 2 to 15 are overweight or obese”, which can increase the likelihood of diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Stats like this are shocking, but what’s driving the problem?
A report by the RCPCH suggests that “childhood obesity is more prevalent among deprived areas”, implying that there is a great need for better education as well as making the cost of eating healthily accessible to all.
Hidden sugars are also a huge problem. Our taste buds have adapted to copious amounts of sugar in modern diets; some of the top sources include chocolate spread (57.1g of total sugar per 100g), cola (10.9g/100ml), fruit yoghurt (16.6g/100g) and tomato ketchup (27.5g/100g). Perhaps most worryingly, are the sugar levels found in savoury items, especially if people consider yoghurt to be a healthy snack. This takes us back to the NHS food scanner which identifies hidden sugars and suggests alternatives that offer better nutritional value.
Good education around food and nutrition will always start at school, and we were curious to see whether improvements had been made over the years. In UK primary schools there is evidence that the curriculum has evolved, and yet “a survey conducted by the British Nutrition Foundation in 2017 revealed that 13% of 8–11 year-olds think pasta came from an animal”. So perhaps we still have some way to go.
Related: Why Do I Crave Sugar When Stressed?
Many of us these days seem to be developing food intolerances. Whether it be gluten, dairy, or something else, so many seem to be suffering from gut health issues and associated conditions, which could be linked to the food we eat.
As an aside, food intolerances are different to allergies; an allergy is a reaction caused by your immune system and can be life-threatening, whereas a food intolerance can cause symptoms to build up gradually, and often, the more you eat, the worse you feel.
Those suffering from food intolerances will commiserate with how difficult it can be to check ingredient lists before buying. This very useful and award-winning app is designed to make things a bit easier. The app covers intolerances such as lactose and fructose intolerance, low FODMAP diet, histamine intolerance and many more. If you’re interested in this area of nutrition, then you may find some of their articles interesting too.
To make matters more confusing, and perhaps backing up the need for apps such as the above, it seems that different people may require different diets. A recent study undertaken by ZOE asked 1,100 adults in the US and UK to eat the exact same common foods, yet despite this, no two individuals' reactions were the same. With plenty of science to back up the data, it makes for an interesting subject to explore further.
Whilst we were looking at apps that are linked to better nutrition, we couldn’t help but notice the increase in apps that are taking a more holistic approach to health; apps that might have solely focused on nutrition have now expanded to cover exercise, mind and even sleep. An all-rounder, if you will. The importance of a multidisciplinary approach is becoming clearer; for example, we might be eating nutritionally balanced meals, but a lack of exercise and high-stress levels may still mean we are still not reaching optimum health levels.
One of these apps is Feel Better by Deliciously Ella. Once very much a brand that was all about food and diet, the offering via the app now includes workouts, yoga and meditation. There’s also an accompanying podcast, and we rather enjoyed the Five Pillars episode which covers the holistic approach we’ve been talking about here. The Body Coach (Joe Wicks) has also seen success with a similar approach. What started out as HIIT style workouts have evolved to healthy recipes and nutritional advice; his app now offers a one place stop for both exercise and recipes for nutritious meals.
Given the popularity of both Deliciously Ella and the Body Coach, there’s clearly a drive for people looking to address their health from all angles. We think that these holistic, lifestyle apps are an interesting accompaniment to such a quest; for starters, they offer everything in one place, which, with our busy lifestyles can be a blessing. It’s also noticeable that the layouts of such apps are simple and inviting, with new recipes and workouts presented beautifully for the user to enjoy.
Clearly, the whole user experience has been very carefully thought through, and we’re rather liking the ethos behind them.
Sam produces our regular #TRVSTLOVES where she seeks out inspiration, news, and ideas from across the globe that both highlight and celebrate how actions can make for social and environmental change.
Sam is passionate about seeking out small businesses that are implementing remarkable and exciting projects to tackle the climate crisis; she enjoys exploring how their innovation will help change the future of our world.
A degree in English Literature from the University of Southampton has given Sam the research expertise to share and contextualize stories around innovative projects, legislation, and changemakers.