Translational Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 320–325 | Cite as

Mobile apps for pediatric obesity prevention and treatment, healthy eating, and physical activity promotion: just fun and games?

  • Danielle E. Schoffman
  • Gabrielle Turner-McGrievy
  • Sonya J. Jones
  • Sara Wilcox
Article

ABSTRACT

Mobile applications (apps) offer a novel way to engage children in behavior change, but little is known about content of commercially available apps for this population. We analyzed the content of apps for iPhone/iPad for pediatric weight loss, healthy eating (HE), and physical activity (PA). Fifty-seven apps were downloaded and tested by two independent raters. Apps were coded for: inclusion of the Expert Committee for Pediatric Obesity Prevention's (ECPOP) eight recommended strategies (e.g., set goals) and seven behavioral targets (e.g., do ≥1 h of PA per day), utilization of gaming elements, and general characteristics. Most apps lacked any expert recommendations (n = 35, 61.4 %). The mean number of recommendations among apps that used recommendations was 3.6 ± 2.7 out of 15, 56.1 % (n = 32) apps were classified as games, and mean price per app was $1.05 ± 1.66. Most apps reviewed lacked expert recommendations and could be strengthened by addition of comprehensive information about health behavior change and opportunities for goal setting.

KEYWORDS

Pediatric obesity Childhood Overweight Mobile apps Mobile health 

Notes

Acknowledgments

No funding was received for this research.

Conflicts of interest

None.

Supplementary material

13142_2013_206_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (28 kb)
ESM 1(PDF 27.6 kb)

References

  1. 1.
    Cl O et al. Prevalence of obesity and trends in body mass index among us children and adolescents, 1999–2010. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association. 2012;307(5):483-490.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    2010 Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance, Summary of Growth Indicators by Age (Children Aged <5 Years), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Pediatric and Pregnancy Nutrition Surveillance System, Editor 2010: Atlanta.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Freedman DS. et al. Cardiovascular risk factors and excess adiposity among overweight children and adolescents: The Bogalusa Heart Study. J Pediatr. 2007;150(1):12-17 e2.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Singh AS. et al. Tracking of childhood overweight into adulthood: A systematic review of the literature. Obes Rev. 2008;9(5):474-88.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Barlow SE. The Expert Committee. Expert committee recommendations regarding the prevention, assessment, and treatment of child and adolescent overweight and obesity: summary report. Pediatrics. 2007;120(Supplement 4):S164-S192.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Whitlock, E.P., et al., Effectiveness of weight management interventions in children: A targeted systematic review for the USPSTF. Pediatrics. 2010.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Epstein LH. Wrotniak BH. Future directions for pediatric obesity treatment. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010;18(Suppl 1):S8-12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Boushey CJ. et al. Use of technology in children's dietary assessment. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2009;63(Suppl 1):S50-7.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    The Health Educator's Social Media Toolkit, Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Editor 2011, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Atlanta.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Purcell K, Half of adult cell phone owners have apps on their phones in Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project. Washington, D.C.;2011.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Lenhart, A., Teens, smartphones & texting, in Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project. Washington, D.C.;2012.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Free phones, free cell phones, smartphones, & mobile devices from AT&T. 2012 [cited 2012 September 8]; Available from: https://www.att.com/shop/wireless/devices/freephones.html.
  13. 13.
    MetroPCS resuscitating $40 plan for 4G LTE smartphones. 2012 [cited 2012 September 8]; Available from: http://www.cnet.com/8301-17918_1-57370479-85/metropcs-resuscitating-$40-plan-for-4g-lte-smartphones/.
  14. 14.
    Smith, G. Smartphones bring hope, frustration as substitute for computers Huffington Post. 2012.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Smith A., Nearly half of American adults are smartphone owners in The Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project Washington, D.C;2012Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Breton E, Fuemmeler B, Abroms L. Weight loss—There is an app for that! But does it adhere to evidence-informed practices? Translational Behavioral Med. 2011;1(4):523-529.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Abroms LC. et al. iPhone apps for smoking cessation: A content analysis. Am J Prev Med. 2011;40(3):279-85.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Lookout Mobile Security, App Genome Report—February 2011, 2011.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    iTunes. Application ratings. 2012 [cited 2012 June 20]; Available from: http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/appRatings.
  20. 20.
    McGonigal J. Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World Vol. 1. New York: New York Penguin Press; 2011.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Ferguson B. The emergence of games for health. Games for Health J. 2012;1(1):3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Wireframe, L. Hyperant™ HyperActivity™ cards. 2012 [cited 2012 September 24]; Available from: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/hyperant-hyperactivity-cards/id512140657?mt=8.
  23. 23.
    Webber KH, Tate DF, Quintiliani LM. Motivational interviewing in internet groups: A pilot study for weight loss. J Am Diet Assoc. 2008;108(6):1029-32.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Cool Skipping Lite. 2012 [cited 2012 July 17]; Available from: http://itunes.apple.com/app/id486603558.
  25. 25.
    Food N'Me. SmashYourFood. 2012 [cited 2012 September 8]; Available from: http://smashyourfood.foodnme.com/en/.
  26. 26.
    Apps for Healthy Kids. 2010 [cited 2012 September 8]; Available from: http://appsforhealthykids.com/.
  27. 27.
    Rules—Apps for healthy kids. 2010 [cited 2012 September 8]; Available from: http://appsforhealthykids.com/rules.
  28. 28.
    Food N'Me. For parents—SmashYourFood. 2012 [cited 2012 September 8]; Available from: http://smashyourfood.foodnme.com/en/for-parents/.
  29. 29.
    Patrick H, Nicklas TA. A review of family and social determinants of children's eating patterns and diet quality. J Am Coll Nutr. 2005;24(2):83-92.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Wilson DK. et al. Neighborhood and parental supports for physical activity in minority adolescents. Am J Prev Med. 2011;41(4):399-406.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Society of Behavioral Medicine 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Danielle E. Schoffman
    • 1
  • Gabrielle Turner-McGrievy
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Sonya J. Jones
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Sara Wilcox
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, Arnold School of Public HealthUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.Center for Research in Nutrition and Health Disparities, Arnold School of Public HealthUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  3. 3.Prevention Research Center, Arnold School of Public HealthUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  4. 4.Department of Exercise Science, Arnold School of Public HealthUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA

Personalised recommendations