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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015, Article ID 841368, 11 pages
Research Article

Using a Smartphone Application to Promote Healthy Dietary Behaviours and Local Food Consumption

1Department of Geography, School of Health Studies, Department of Paediatrics Social Science Centre, The University of Western Ontario, 1151 Richmond Street, London, ON, Canada N6A 5C2
2Department of Family Medicine, Michigan State University, 200 E 1st Street, Flint, MI 48502, USA
3Department of Geography, Social Science Centre, The University of Western Ontario, 1151 Richmond Street, London, ON, Canada N6A 5C2
4Division of Food and Nutritional Sciences, Brescia University College, 1285 Western Road, London, ON, Canada N6G 1H2
5Department of Geography, Wilfrid Laurier University, 75 University AW, Waterloo, ON, Canada N2L 3C5

Received 19 November 2014; Revised 26 January 2015; Accepted 23 February 2015

Academic Editor: Pascale Allotey

Copyright © 2015 Jason Gilliland et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Smartphone “apps” are a powerful tool for public health promotion, but unidimensional interventions have been ineffective at sustaining behavioural change. Various logistical issues exist in successful app development for health intervention programs and for sustaining behavioural change. This study reports on a smartphone application and messaging service, called “SmartAPPetite,” which uses validated behaviour change techniques and a behavioural economic approach to “nudge” users into healthy dietary behaviours. To help gauge participation in and influence of the program, data were collected using an upfront food survey, message uptake tracking, experience sampling interviews, and a follow-up survey. Logistical and content-based issues in the deployment of the messaging service were subsequently addressed to strengthen the effectiveness of the app in changing dietary behaviours. Challenges included creating relevant food goal categories for participants, providing messaging appropriate to self-reported food literacy and ensuring continued participation in the program. SmartAPPetite was effective at creating a sense of improved awareness and consumption of healthy foods, as well as drawing people to local food vendors with greater frequency. This work serves as a storehouse of methods and best practices for multidimensional local food-based smartphone interventions aimed at improving the “triple bottom line” of health, economy, and environment.