WP 3-4 Improvement of Dietary Behavior by use of apps

Improvement of Dietary Behavior in Middle Aged People by Meal Picture Mobile Application

There is limited literature claiming that nutrition applications for mobile devices may result in better self-monitoring adherence and changes in dietary intakes [1-3]. However, these apps face a number of challenges like the lack of evidence of clinical effectiveness and the need for formal evaluation [4]. Dietary self-monitoring with photography and peer feedback amended by recommendations, goal-setting and other adherence improving factors are likely to be effective healthy eating interventions and potentially reach large groups [5].

However, it is not clear which self-monitoring method works best for an individual to increase adherence [4]. Recent research on recommender approaches has acknowledged an increasing need of investigating personalization and the user's perspective on these systems [6]. Social recommender systems relying on opinions and ratings provided by other users and sharing information in social networks is a growing subfield [7]. The publication of Song et al. presents an example of applying a social recommender system in the health domain, but with a very limited focus [8]. Several apps focusing on social motivation are on the market (e.g. www.gym-pact.com focusing on exercise motivation), but while general aspects such as motivation and volition are well studied in psychology [9], systematic research on fostering social motivation with the help of social networking mechanisms is scarce.


[1] Lieffers JR, Hanning RM. Can J Diet Pract Res. 2012; 73:e253-60. [2] Carter MC et al. J Med Internet Res. 2013; 15: e32. [3] Turner-McGrievy GM et al. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2013; 20:513-8. [4] Eng DS, Lee JM. Pediatr Diabetes. 2013 14:231-8. [5] Helander E et al. J Med Internet Res. 2014;16(4): e109. [6] Konstan J, Riedl J. UMUAI 2012. [7] Recommender Systems & The Social Web workshop series, ACM Recommender System Conference. [8] Song I et al. LNCS 7047, Springer, 2011. [9] Rheinberg F, Vollmeyer R. Motivation (8. ed.). Kohlhammer, 2011.

Changing work and leisure time habits of young and middle-aged people promote an unhealthy lifestyle. As a new trend, an increasing number of people is posting pictures of their dishes in online communities. This might be an unique lever to influence unhealthy eating behaviors, further facilitated self-monitoring, community mechanisms, social motivation and recommendation techniques. There is limited scientific data whether mobile apps engage people to change their nutritional habits. Furthermore, it is not known who may benefit most from such self-monitoring and social motivation tools. The objective of this project is to modify the nutritional behavior of young and middle-aged people towards a healthy diet. The hypothesis is that a mobile app supports individuals to monitor and socially motivate themselves to improve their dietary behavior. Furthermore, new insight into social recommender approaches in the food domain will be obtained.


  1. Development of an app that lets users post and rate images of meals. These posted dishes are rated by the community regarding their calorie content and health value.
  2. An analysis of user behavior and interaction with the service as well as user studies via explicit feedback channels will be carried out.

Coordinating Investigator

Dr. Christina Holzapfel

Technische Universität München
Institut für Ernährungsmedizin
Klinikum rechts der Isar

Tel.:     +49 (0)89 289 24923
Email:  christina.holzapfel@wzw.tum.de


Prof. Dr. Helmut Krcmar

Technische Universität München
Lehrstuhl für Wirtschaftsinformatik

Tel.:     +49 (0)89 289 19532
Email:  krcmar[at]in.tum.de

PD Dr. Georg Groh

Technische Universität München
Lehrstuhl für angewandte Informatik
Kooperative Systeme

Tel.:     +49 (0) 89 289 18654
Email:  grohg[at]in.tum.de

Dr. Markus Böhm

Technische Universität München
Lehrstuhl für Wirtschaftsinformatik

Tel.:     +49 (0) 89 289 19528
Email:  markus.boehm[at]in.tum.de