Nutrition and health – there is an app for that!

Over 100,000 apps to choose from – where does one begin to choose?

According to Carol Turner PhD, RD, Food and Nutrition Specialist at New Mexico State University, almost half of the U.S. adult population (46 percent) has a smartphone with apps. Consumers are using the hundreds of thousands of apps to help them do everything from shopping, diet, track specific diet requirements, file favorite recipes and track calories and fitness goals.

When shopping it has been documented that shoppers are using apps to help them price food items. Seventy-three percent of consumers with smartphones are using an app to plan shopping lists, review newspaper ads or create a list while in the store. Sixty-one percent of consumers with smart devices are utilizing their apps to guide them to healthier food choices, based on calories, freshness and other nutrition data they can pull. Fifty-five percent of smartphone users were searching for recipes while shopping, either from a recipe data base they have created or from many of the apps available. Twenty-nine percent of connected moms are creating shopping lists, using web sites or apps prior to even stepping foot in a store to conduct their business. Once they have started their shopping trip, 26 percent of this group will look for coupons on their smartphones to use.

There are over 100,000 general nutrition apps available for smartphones, Blackberries, tablets and other such devices. It is important to understand which apps are helpful and based on fact, not fad. Try to determine who designed the app and what you are interested in. Is it educational, for your health or a tool to make organizing or a workout easier? Was it designed by a health or nutrition focused company, a registered dietitian or someone who designs software but doesn’t have a nutrition background? Are there reviews from research based sources like the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics? Is it an app you will use or is it so complicated it makes no sense at all? Is there a fee to download it? Many are free, but some of the more detailed ones related to specific diets or tracking come with a one-time or monthly fee – make sure you read the fine print!

Keep in mind the time you spend browsing all the apps comes right out of the time you may be trying to save. Make sure what you are selecting to use is user friendly and uses techniques you have heard of. Decide for yourself, what you really want the particular app to do; test the apps before committing to something.

It is projected that by the year 2015 500 million people will be using smartphone healthcare apps! That is a lot of choices for a consumer to sift through. Michigan State University Extension  promotes health and wellbeing, and with the addition of apps for our electronic devices, tracking and managing will be much easier!

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