STUDY | 
Health
 BEHAVIOR CHANGE

Can existing mobile apps support healthier food purchasing behaviour? Content analysis of nutrition content, behaviour change theory and user quality integration.

Flaherty (2018)
Summary by 

To assess the quality of nutrition content and the integration of user quality components and behaviour change theory relevant to food purchasing behaviour in a sample of existing mobile apps. Descriptive comparative analysis of eleven mobile apps comprising an assessment of their alignment with existing evidence on nutrition, behaviour change and user quality, and their potential ability to support healthier food purchasing behaviour. Mobile apps freely available for public use in GoogePlay were assessed and scored according to agreed criteria to assess nutrition content quality and integration of behaviour change theory and user quality components. A sample of eleven mobile apps that met predefined inclusion criteria to ensure relevance and good quality. The quality of the nutrition content varied. Improvements to the accuracy and appropriateness of nutrition content are needed to ensure mobile apps support a healthy behaviour change process and are accessible to a wider population. There appears to be a narrow focus towards behaviour change with an overemphasis on behavioural outcomes and a small number of behaviour change techniques, which may limit effectiveness. A significant effort from the user was required to use the mobile apps appropriately which may negatively influence user acceptability and subsequent utilisation. Existing mobile apps may offer a potentially effective approach to supporting healthier food purchasing behaviour but improvements in mobile app design are required to maximise their potential effectiveness. Engagement of mobile app users and nutrition professionals is recommended to support effective design.