CSIRO turns eating veggies into a game with a new app

Scientists have come up with a new approach to tackling the nation’s poor nutrition with the CSIRO's VegEze app which turns eating vegetables into a challenge.

The new VegEze app challenges people to eat three different vegetables at dinner every day for 21 days, helping people track the veggies they eat and tally up serves, with daily reminders and rewards to help people stay motivated and on-track.

It came about in response to serious concerns about Australia’s eating habits.

"Our research found two out of three Australian adults are not eating enough vegetables, especially as part of their evening meal. It's time to find more engaging, effective approaches to help break these entrenched diet habits," said CSIRO Senior Principal Research Scientist, Professor Manny Noakes.

"We need a fresh approach to improve Australia’s vegetable consumption and overall diet quality,"

The aim of the VegEze app is to motivate Australians to add extra vegetables to their daily diets and form long-term, healthier habits through a 21-day 'Do 3 at Dinner' challenge.

"Committing to eating more vegetables every day is one of the most important ways we can improve our health today. Boosting your intake can be as easy as having three types of vegetables taking up half of your dinner plate," Professor Noakes said.

"After just a few weeks using the app every day, users should feel more confident in adding more vegetables to their menu and notice some positive changes to their health and wellbeing.

"The beneficial nutrients and fibre from vegetables can help improve digestion, and fill you up – which can help reduce eating too much unhealthy junk food."

For the last two years, CSIRO has studied the eating habits of more than 191,000 adults as part of its Healthy Diet Score research.

It found that eating three types of vegetables during the evening meal was a key marker in having a better diet.

Further research of 1068 adults showed that low awareness, low confidence and a lack of time were all contributing to Australia’s low vegetable consumption.

To help people overcome these challenges, the VegEze app includes educational resources including a visual guide on specific vegetable serve sizes, healthy recipes packed with vegetables, motivational rewards and nutritional information.

The new VegEze app joins the popular FoodSwitch app, which allows users to scan packaged food at the supermarket, and gives the product a colour coded traffic light rating system regarding of how much salt, sugar, gluten, energy or fat it contains.

FoodSwitch was developed as part of a partnership between Bupa and The George Institute for Global Health.

“Many people have no idea how much sugar, salt and fat is in the food they buy at the supermarket,” says Bupa Dietitian Gemma Cosgriff.

“A lot of packaged food can appear to be a healthy choice, when it’s actually not. It’s also important to encourage people to consume more fresh produce rather than packaged, processed foods, so apps like these are fantastic to help people make healthier choices!”

It can be confusing and time consuming trying to read and interpret labels, so the FoodSwitch app takes the guesswork out of packaged foods. Combine that with the CSIRO’s VegEze app helping people fit more vegetables into their diets – it’s a recipe for success.

“It is fantastic to see more innovative approaches coming out to support people in consuming more vegetables. It can be a challenging goal to achieve, so new offerings like this can make the healthy choice the easy choice!” Gemma says.

Download the FoodSwitch app here.

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