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How Technology Can Revitalize Nutrition Education for Kids

by | April 13, 2018

In this article we look at different types of apps that have one goal in common, and it’s an important one – to educate families and children about nutrition and healthy eating habits.

There are so many options when it comes to learning about food, you may find it useful to look at the diversity of apps making an impact out there already.

Nutrition Tracker Apps

An important subject for most parents is whether their kids are getting enough of what they need. For toddlers and babies especially, it can be a worry when their feeding habits change, and parents are not sure if it’s normal or healthy.

Nutrition trackers can be a quick and useful way of recording their child’s unique eating patterns and to better analyze whether they are getting enough or too much of certain foods.

For instance, The Sugar App makes it easy for users to see hidden sugar in common foods by scanning the barcode or entering the name of the food and the app automatically calculates the sugar amount. From those entries, the app can also track how much you have every day, week or month, so parents can set children challenges and keep an eye on their sugar intake. You could also use barcode or QR code scanning software along with a good food product API, to develop a nutrition tracker app for kids.

Advances in technology, such as OCR (optical character recognition), AR and 3D, allows more opportunities for software development than ever before, so there is great potential to produce an app that goes way beyond a standard tracker and make it more interactive as the child grows.

As fitness wearables have become more popular we are sure to see an increase in similar health/nutrition tracking software for products like water bottles, so kids can interactively track how much water they drink and be reminded when they need to drink more or top up their bottle.

Organic Education Apps

With over $47 billion spent on organic food in the U.S in 2016, the demand shows no signs of slowing down. Educating kids and teenagers about organic food choices can be a challenge, so apps can be a good way of keep them engaged.

You can currently find apps containing organic baby food recipes and information, as well as apps like Starting with Soil, an app to educate 6-12 year olds about where food comes from, but what might be done differently in the future?

For parent focused solutions, it’s likely we will see more integration of geolocation technology into this type of app, as people want to know where they can find the nearest organic foods, restaurants, farms and shops. For kids, augmented reality could take things to a whole new level for nutrition education in all categories, with endless ways of virtually interpreting the food in front of them.

Specialist Diet and Allergy Management Apps

With food allergy and intolerance testing on the rise, it has led to millions of people realising they need to adopt a new diet to feel healthy. Conditions such as coeliac disease  is estimated to affect approximately 1 in every 100 people worldwide, many of them children. Apps can really help to provide the support and information needed to make the transition to a new diet or to spot ingredients they should stay away from.

For example, the GMO scanner from NxtNutrio makes it easy for parents to find hidden ingredients such as artificial preservatives, Gluten, MSG and other unhealthy ingredients in foods by scanning the barcode, or looking up the food item manually in the directory. This can be done using an existing database or a data API like In R Food.

Delving deeper into specialist diets, we can see a rise in vegetarian education and recipe apps for families and apps like FoodSwitch, who aim to encourage healthy food switches to reduce sugar, fat and salt in your child’s diet.

Lots of potential in this category to make specialist dietary requirements easier for families more manageable, interactive and educational.

Nutrition and Healthy Eating Games

Kids as young as two are using technology as a way of learning through play, apps like Clever Kid Yum Yum is aimed for 2-4 year olds and aims to teach them about the effects of early nutrition. Players select healthy or unhealthy foods to feed the hungry yum yum monster and see the results of their choices, making the monster happy and healthy or sad with a tummy ache.

Another popular app aimed for younger children is Awesome Eats, where kids learn about fruit, veggies and related health facts as they progress through the game. The app keeps nutrition education fun and even enjoyable for adults to play.

There are still many great opportunities in this category to bring modern nutrition education into fun gaming apps aimed for children and teenagers.

Recipe Apps

This is one of the most popular categories out of the ones featured here, you will find many apps dedicated to recipes for all ages and occasions including; Baby food and kids recipes, or healthy snack ideas for kids.

What’s interesting is the way new technology is being incorporated into recipe apps, bringing exciting ways for combining recipes with nutrition education. For example, Recipe IQ is an app that lets you take a photo of any recipe, from a book or even a computer screen, then the app presents the nutritional content of that recipe using OCR technology. So now when people are looking up recipes online, they can take a quick snap and see how it fits with their needs.

We expect to see more innovative apps in this genre taking advantage of OCR technology and object recognition APIs to give users a brand-new experience.

MyFuelUP is a good example of nutrition and heathy eating app packed with appealing features that teenagers (and parents) would find useful. Meal plans, recipes, restaurant recommendations and even grocery shopping lists are available to make easy work of eating healthy.

Building a child nutrition education app?

Points to consider:

Responsibility –  Only include the highest quality, most accurate information. Not all app entrepreneurs are specialists in the industry of their app, so that means outsourcing their data and content in a variety of ways such as; partnerships with nutrition brands or contributions from child nutrition experts and doctors. Any nutrition education is a big responsibility, especially when it’s advising on child nutrition, so keep this in mind when building your app.

To include accurate food database APIs, check out Open Food facts and the USDA food composition databases. Nutritionix is another good one for nutrition and exercise APIs including restaurant geolocation.

If you’re developing mobile app specifically for children only, you may also be subject to The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which imposes certain requirements on operators of websites or online services directed to children under 13 years of age, so be sure to check out the guidelines.

Design – Whether your app is aimed for parents, or children, the design needs to be of high standard to do well in today’s busy app stores. There is no design to please everyone, but there are certain elements of design that perform better for conversion, so always consult the professionals and remember that your developer is not a designer.

Usability – Busy parents want something to aid their life, not add to their life, so make the UI as friendly and easy as possible to gain more loyal, long-term users.  People want fast, bug free software, so ensure it’s built with quality and longevity in mind. Nothing worse when investing in developing an app to find it becomes unusable whenever it needs an update or bug fix.

In app upgrades – Ask your developer to include a short one question quiz that only an adult could pass to ensure kids can’t make any in app upgrades without permission.

Online payments – Provide users with a secure, quick payment method/s with easy checkout options to assist conversion. Paypal is usually a good option as it is secure and likely contains the customers details already, so they can purchase faster with less fuss.

In app Advertising – Make sure they are 100% suitable for your app and its users. The best apps for kids will either contain no ads or they will be age specific. If you must include ads, introduce a premium version of your app so users can make the choice to see them or not and make sure any ads are COPPA compliant. Check out Kidoz SDK for monetizing your app with kid friendly, COPPA compliant ads that are in line with Googles ‘Designed for Families’ program guidelines.

Before you have an idea developed…

Remember people buy what they want, not always what they need. Always perform market research on your app idea before diving right in to development options.

Have your say

What do you think, can specialized apps help educate children and parents on nutrition, while keeping them engaged and entertained enough to create a long-lasting impact?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Eva George

Marketing Specialist & Copywriter

Scopic Software

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