How Can FeatApp Make an Impact?
FeatApp is more than just an app. It is a tool within the Feat ecosystem, a larger visionary project where technological, social and communication tools merge together to effect behaviour change for the overall improvement of wellness. FeatApp strives to make an impact on overall health and wellness through engaging users in physical activity and exposing them to nutritionally abundant food experiences. FeatApp aims to leverage technology to gamify the whole health experience, bridging the virtual with the real world.
The World Health Organization defines health as a “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” FeatApp targets two main elements proven crucial to overall health: physical activity and diet (Wiseman 2008).
In 2009, the World Health Organization identified physical inactivity as the fourth greatest risk for noncommunicable diseases (World Health Organization 2009). Recent survey-driven data indicates that 31% of adults worldwide do not perform enough physical activity to meet the minimum recommendations for overall wellness (Hallal et al. 2012). Increases in physical activity are associated with reduced risk of morbidity and mortality (Huffman 2010). Healthcare literature supports the development of accessible interventions that integrate behavioural economics, wearable devices, principles of evidence-based behaviour change and community support (van Mierlo et al. 2016).
Abundant global research proves there is demand for products to increase personal physical activity. Physical inactivity is costly to individual health, but also economically strains healthcare systems (Oldridge 2008) around the globe. Since it is proven that wearable devices and pedometers significantly increase physical activity (Bravata et al. 2007), FeatApp aims to build on this foundation and create a way to make physical activity more attractive to users through their activity tracking app that offers an extrinsic reward system,doubling as a healthy diet awareness tool.
Diet, together with physical activity, has an important influence on health (Gillman et al. 2001). By offering extrinsic food product and experience rewards, FeatApp hopes to draw user attention to their personal eating habits and diets. Studies show that programs that target diet and physical activity together have enhanced outcomes (Gillman, Matthew W., et al., 2001). Because socio-economic status directly affects nutritional interest, cooking skills and motivation, Feat (Darmon & Drewnowski 2008), as a free downloadable app, FeatApp hopes to target users at any status, and also provide access to good food at a discounted price. FeatApp aims to expose users to a variety of food products and experiences that complement the objective of increased overall health.
Research shows motivation playing a crucial role in eating and activity behaviour change (Kelly et al. 1991). Proactive healthcare technologies (Intille 2004) and reward systems represents the main incentive to incite behaviour change, while at the moment, they are mainly focused on fitness and outdoor rewards for boosting the activity level itself (van Mierlo et al. 2016) research shows certain classes of natural extrinsic reinforcers, such as food, are highly effective in as motivators. (Berns et al. 2001), resulting in greater and more consistent changes in behaviour (Tarou & Bashaw 2007/2).
FeatApp aims to provide motivation for behaviour change (increase physical activity) through extrinsic healthy food rewards. FeatApp uses gamified technology in attempt to engage users and increase physical activity. The use and exposure to healthy food rewards and experiences works to capitalise on the linked motivational effect, encouraging healthy physical activity and nutritional patterns that continue over time.
Feat Summer School Mediterraneo Challenge
From July 4 to 24, 2016 Feat was invited to take part in the Food Innovation Summer School Mediterraneo. The intensive and immersive program was designed to bring together students from around the globe for an in-depth look at food innovation in the context of Mediterranean culture. Feat’s objective was to prototype a customized version of FeatApp for the Food Innovation Summer School (known as FeatSS) that would build upon FeatApp’s behaviour change technology, encouraging community engagement in addition.
Validate a technological-based, health-behaviour changing system in the form of a beta app called FeatSS, using food and community as motivational drivers, and physical activity as the main input data.
- External rewards are able to drive behavioural change compared to systems without extrinsic reward.
- Personal attention to overall health, in the form of physical activity and eating habits, will increase with involvement in FeatSS.
- Group challenges increase personal effort, behavioural change and overall satisfaction of participation in FeatSS.
- Food experiences, as opposed to singular food products, will increase personal motivation of involvement.
Data and Change
The data collected and change in behaviour was focused on the following categories.
- Activity level. Steps were measured through Misfit Flash, a wearable device that automatically tracks steps, overall distance, calories, and light and restful sleep cycles, wirelessly syncing with paired smartphone to upload data.
- Attention and interest in physical activity. Qualitative data was measured through a personal discretion survey both before and after the immersion period
- Attention and interest in food. Qualitative data was measured through a personal discretion survey both before and after the immersion period
From July 4 to 24, 2016 in Messina, Italy, Feat involved 16 students of the Food Innovation Summer School to participate in a beta-test of the re-imagined FeatSS app. The 16 participants were divided into four teams to track their physical activity. Participants competed personally and as teams to win prizes of local food products and a final team experience.
Students were provided with a fitness tracker (Misfit Flash) and FeatSS, the beta-mobile application that awarded 1 coin every 1000 steps recorded, showed a personal physical activity diary, offered a new personal reward every three days, and displayed personal and team rankings. Coins did not expire, they could be earned only by walking/running and the use of the personal coins to redeem rewards did not affect the team rankings.
- Artisanal beer: 30 coins each / 10 available
- Artisanal savoury spreads: 30 coins each / 10 available
- Modica Chocolate bars: 30 coins each / 10 available
The final team experience reward was a dinner to share in a typical Sicilian restaurant, to taste, experience and understand more about Mediterranean typical products and dishes.
Program Participant make-up
- 16 participants
- Ages: 23-38
- Average age: 28 years old
- Countries of origin:
- 11 from the EU (Netherlands, Romania, two from UK, five from Italy, Portugal, Germany)
- Three from the US
- One from Colombia
- One from Canada.
- Study and professional backgrounds: Industrial design, Agriculture, Psychology, Philosophy, Food technology, Biomedical, Media, Economics, Marketing, Management.
- July 1 to 10: comparison period
- July 11 to 22: trial period
- August 22 to 30: recall survey
Outcomes and Learnings
External rewards are able to drive behavioural change compared to systems without extrinsic reward.
The study group (with extrinsic reward) performed 21% more physical activity during the trial period than with the comparison one.
The comparison group (without extrinsic reward) performed 7% more physical activity during the trial period than with the comparison one.
Personal attention to overall health, in the form of physical activity, and food and eating habits, will increase with involvement in FeatSS.
44.4% of the study group (with extrinsic reward) claimed to spend 16 hours a week or more reading, watching and thinking about physical activity since Feat activity started, compared with 11% before the program kick-off. The overall attention and interest in physical activity grew by 400% during Feat program. 70% of the study group mentioned Feat as a main reason for this change.
Food and eating habits:
32% of the study group (with extrinsic reward) claimed to spend 50 hours a week or more reading, watching and thinking about food since Feat activity started, compared with 11% before the program kick-off. The overall attention and interest in food grew by 300% during Feat program. 80% of the study group mentioned Feat among the main reasons for this change
Group challenges increase personal effort, behavioural change and overall satisfaction of participation in FeatSS.
Students running both for the team and for the personal challenge improved by 20,93% their activity performances across the period, while students running just for the personal challenge did by 17,78%. 100% of the overall study group mentioned personal fulfilment as a motivational driver, while 67% mentioned contributing to the team. Eventually, on a scale 1 to 5, students running both for the team and for the personal challenge evaluated their effort on average as 2.53, while students running just for the personal challenge 2.09.
Overall we can say that personal motivation comes before team motivation, while the latter represents an impactful additional motivator in terms of experience.
Food experiences, as opposed to singular food products, will increase personal motivation of involvement.
On a scale 1 to 5, students evaluated their engagement and satisfaction with food experience exactly equal to the one with a food reward: 3.25.
According to survey data, the FeatSS app and group challenge was successful in increasing participants overall physical activity as well as increasing participant awareness to both diet and physical activity. Additionally, while personal motivation towards rewards was the primary incentive for increased physical activity, being part of a team added additional motivation.
The FeatSS app targets existing and new communities. The idea of creating groups and displaying both personal and group leaderboards within the FeatSS was successful in increasing physical activity through a food-based rewards program. The potential to integrate such an app into existing communities (schools, companies, local organizations) allows for a team-building experience, a way to promote overall health of users, and an opportunity to promote brand impact on positive wellness experiences. The FeatSS prototype is not hindered by number of participants and is available to access regardless of geographic location.
Users engaged in a FeatSS app experience will not only be motivated to engage in increased physical activity, but also have the opportunity to be exposed to nutritious food and food experiences. This allows for brand exposure for food products and food experience purveyors (restaurants, health food stores, local food producers etc.). Through FeatSS app, users will also be encouraged for more regular interaction among themselves, whether it be in a friendly, individual competitive manner, or engaging as a team to strategize increased participation.
FeatSS proved that group challenges provide additional motivation for overall health, allow for brand exposure of food products and food experiences to large and select communities already interested in healthy lifestyles, and allow for existing communities (schools, workplaces, etc.) to engage in a program that strengthens their public commitment to health and wellness.
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