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Phone apps help save time to prepare healthy family meals

Busy families are looking to save time at mealtimes, and according to the findings of a Flinders University study, some of the best meal planning apps can help keep these dishes healthier.

Flinders University Professor Rebecca Golley says meal planning apps and, in particular, features promoting organisation, offer feasible time saving solutions supporting healthy food practises.

Focus on the prevention of childhood obesity

As the Better Lives Theme Lead at Flinders’ Caring Futures Institute, Professor Golley is focused on investigating prevention obesity in childhood and promoting nutrition, and she believes examining the effectiveness of food apps is one means of helping parents and other caregivers to improve children’s diet quality.

Public lecture: Thinking outside the (lunch)box

This will be the focus of the next BRAVE public lecture presented by Flinders University that highlights pivotal research being undertaken at the university.

Her session – “Thinking outside the (lunch)box: Getting better nutrition onto kids’ plates” – will be livestreamed via the Flinders University website at 6pm on Tuesday 29 September.

cooking meal prep app

Apps reducing time burden of mealtimes

The new research on food-focused phone apps done by Professor Golley’s team – “Mobile apps to support healthy evening meal provision in working families: a feasibility study,” found that the incorporation of automated planning-related features (such as generating meal plans and shopping lists from recipes) ensure that apps have a wider application and do not add to the time burden of food provision.

Study tested five apps over 62 families

For the study, five apps were tested over 4 weeks by 62 families, and the results found that families prioritise time-saving strategies and healthy recipe content in their quest to achieve healthier family meals.

The most effective apps provide simple and fast recipes that are acceptable to families of young children, and are accompanied by appealing, high-quality images of the dish to entice participants and gain their trust.

Planning features such as meal planners and shopping list generators help families to save time. However, participants in the study still weighed up outcomes gained from the apps such as time-saving against the effort involved in using them when determining the acceptability of apps and app features.

healthy meals

Important step towards establishing healthier eating patterns among children

This research forms an important plank in helping to establish healthier eating patterns and good dietary habits among children, to prevent negative health and development outcomes during childhood and later in life.

Current estimates suggest that only five per cent of Australian children consume the recommended serves of vegetables each day and over 30% of children’s energy intake comes from unhealthy sources.

Professor Golley is currently contributing to a national project and new free toolkit: VegKIT for educators, health professionals and agencies, and is researching the potential efficacy of using digital platforms to disseminate nutritional information.

Register for Professor Rebecca Golley’s livestreamed BRAVE lecture at 6pm on Tuesday 29 September:

events.flinders.edu.au/events/brave-thinking-outside-the-lunchbox

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