Health literacy is an independent predictor of body weight and has been identified as a public health goal for the 21st century. Health literacy refers to the ability of a person to understand the basic concepts of health, analyze and evaluate information especially when offered a variety of choices. Although adolescents and young adults (AYAs) are digital natives, it has been reported that when they search for online information they tend to focus more on visual characteristics, and do not evaluate the information according to adult normative criteria for credibility, accuracy and authority, nor are they able to distinguish commercial and non-commercial content.
Thus, WALY was developed as a weight management smartphone application, offering reputable information by incorporating a health literacy tool which tests the users knowledge on diet and nutrition in a fun and interactive manner. These questions test the users’ knowledge on topics such as nutritional labeling, macronutrients, micronutrients, and strategies for weight management. Users can also compete with other users to lead the board with the most number of correct responses in the easy, medium, hard and random sections.
WALY also provides visual information on the healthiness of snacks through traffic signaling of specific macronutrients in the snacks i.e. fat content, sugar content and salt. Red signifies high content, amber moderate content and green safe content. This traffic signaling acts as a signpost to help users make informed choices and make quick comparisons between different products and also ensure that they choose healthier snacks.
1) Quiz function: WALY’s focus lies in its quiz function that tests the knowledge of users on areas related to diet and nutrition in a non-judgmental manner. Correct answers to questions earn coins that can be converted to rewards. To boost their knowledge in that topic they also get additional fun facts. Incorrect answers on the other hand, get a hint and a chance to try again. WALY thus educates AYAs in a fun and interactive way.
2) Coins and rewards: Users can earn coins by answering questions correctly and can exchange them for rewards.
3) Leaderboard: There is a leaderboard that all users can climb and see the top 10 users’ scores.
4) Step tracker: WALY has a step tracker to monitors step count.
5) Location-based-tracker – snack: There is a GPS system which provides information on the healthiness of snacks available nearby through traffic signaling – red for high content, amber for medium content and green for low content. Nutrients that are traffic coded are sugar, fat, saturated fat and salt. It also provides total calories of each snack item.
6) QR code scanner: This function helps users to scan certain food brands to find out about the amount of calories it holds, and traffic signal as mentioned previously.
7) Physical activity feature: Users can get an idea of the amount of physical activity they will need to do to burn the calories from consuming the snacks. This is shown within the snack feature (location based and scanner).
8) Forum: Users can meet on the forum to discuss about topics related to health and wellness.
9) Fun Facts: A data bank of the fun facts with links to reputable resources for users who want more detailed information.
WALY aims to increase knowledge on nutrition and promote healthy eating through quizzes and testing user’s knowledge. It also promotes healthy eating by helping the user make informed choices by signposting the users to the nutritional content of commonly consumed snacks. It also seeks to crowd source additional questions through the forum feature and also gives an idea of the myths and misconceptions of AYAs. The physical activity feature also illustrates the relationship between diet and physical activity in weight management.
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With the WALY application, users will increase their knowledge on diet and nutrition and be able to make informed food choices. They will also learn about energy balance. WALY can be a reputable source of information that AYAs can access and links to reputable websites will be available for those who want more in-depth nutritional information.