Just because I like to embarrass myself, I thought I’d do a quick post to let you know that I’m keeping a diet diary this week – I’m a bit bashful about it.
I’m doing it partly out of interest, and partly as a mini-prototype of what it might be like to use a persuasive mobile-phone based diet diary – an idea that Stephen and I talked about in the comments of this post.
It has been a bit of an eye opener so far. My guideline daily amount of kilo-calories is 2500,
but yesterday I’d already gobbled up over 4000 by the time I got home from work. By the end of the day I’d eaten 5308 kcal (two day’s worth!) [Actually the real eye-opener is that I obviously can't tell the difference between kilojoules and kilocalories - I only had 1808kcal yesterday, 692 too few...]. I’ll do a more detailed breakdown of results at the end of the week…
The benefit of a mobile phone application to help me keep track of my diet is that it could reduce the risk of (accidentally) under-reporting what I eat – either by forgetting to enter something in, or by losing track of what else I’ve eaten that day. My mobile is almost always in my pocket, so it could be a good platform for designing something a bit more engaging than my paper prototype.
Allowing me to self-monitor by giving me feedback and a target is one thing – it enables me to monitor my diet, but what’s the next step? How could a mobile phone app encourage me to change my diet? Should it make suggestions by recommending me what to eat to keep to my personal target, should it use surveillance (or social proofing) to make my diet visible to my friends and vice versa? How could it encourage healthy eating rather than extreme dieting?
Here’s a relevant statistic for these cost-cutting times: “The NHS costs attributable to overweight and obesity are projected to double to £10 billion per year by 2050. The wider costs to society and business are estimated to reach £49.9 billion per year (at today’s prices).” said Foresight, in their recent Tackling Obesities: Future Choices project.