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Research - 12.12.2022 - 10:41

FoodCoach: Helping you make healthy food choices

Researcher and PhD candidate Jing Wu along with Professor Simon Mayer and the FoodCoach team have been working on a project involving the University Clinic for Diabetology, Endocrinology, Nutritional Medicine & Metabolism (UDEM) at the University Hospital of Bern. In this interview, we discussed their project FoodCoach.

Jing Wu and Simon Mayer, what are you researching?

We have been developing an app that helps participants make healthier food choices. With the app FoodCoach, the objective is to investigate the effectiveness of improving people’s food shopping healthiness by providing automated recommendations. 
The study itself is a nine-week, two-arm, Randomized Controlled Trial. Half of the participants (the experiment group) will receive the FoodCoach app to use, and another half (the control group) will only receive an analysis report after the intervention phase via email but no app. Participants will receive no monetary incentives.
 
What is the FoodCoach? What do you hope to achieve?

FoodCoach is the name of the study and the name of the app that half of the participants will receive. Our goal is to investigate whether it helps participants improve their food purchase healthiness by sending them alternative suggestion via the app. After data collection, we will compare and explore the effectiveness of the app.
 
How are you working together with the University Hospital of Bern?

We specifically work together with the University Clinic for Diabetology, Endocrinology, Nutritional Medicine & Metabolism (UDEM) at the University Hospital of Bern. The most important contribution from them in the FoodCoach project is that the dieticians helped design the automatic recommendation algorithm, i.e., deciding when to give recommendations, what they would entail and explained the reasons why users should make the change. They contributed to the entire lifeline of the project, e.g., survey design, feedback giving and user recruitment.

How does it work?

Participants need to be at least 18 years old by the time they join the study and must have either a Migros Cumulus and/or Coop Supercard.

Participants will receive analysis and recommendations via the app or an email. The experiment group with the app will receive more "continuous" analysis and recommendations, because they get updated each time a person goes on shopping with their loyalty cards. For the control group, they will only receive a one-time analysis 12 weeks after they start the study.

To participate in the study, participants need to complete a short survey, create an account on FoodCoach and create an account on our research partner’s website BitsAboutMe, then connect their Migros/Coop accounts to their BitsAboutMe account.

Consistent support will be given to those taking part. Once participants have successfully connected their Migros/Coop accounts to BitsAboutMe, the FoodCoach team will have access to their shopping records tracked by Cumulus or Supercard accounts.  
 
Until when are you looking for participants?

Our initial plan was to recruit at least 100 eligible participants. Our extended deadline is now 31 December 2022. Registration and questions to: foodcoachunisg.ch

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