Innovative technological applications can be important tools to supporting our ultimate goal of achieving health equity. We recognize that the inequities and disparities in health are the derivatives of racial, ethnic, and linguistic disparities that are complicated by structural impositions such as the social and physical determinants of health. We also understand that it is imperative to engage the public in their own health protection and promotion and consequently, in reducing health disparities.
The government is increasingly doing more to raise awareness of the social and physical determinants of health. One of the CDC’s overarching Health Protection Initiatives is “Healthy People in Healthy Places.” This goal of the initiative recognizes that where people live, work, learn, and play has an impact on the protection and promotion of their health and safety. This is particularly relevant for those who are at greater risk of health disparities. Investment in technological applications can help provide the public with tools for improving their health behavior within their own communities and environment.
Last year, the U. S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, M.D., MBA, announced a contest to develop a new app to promote “healthy lifestyles.” The challenge, open to all Americans, was to create new innovative wireless technology that would help people anywhere in the world improve health outcomes. The Surgeon General suggested such tools should in essence provide health information that is tailored to user. They should empower the general public to “regularly engage in, and enjoy, health-promoting behaviors.” Winners of the app challenge were chosen in the following categories: fitness/physical activity; nutrition/healthy eating; and integrative health.
A winner featured in our HIT series is “Fooducate.” Winning the Nutrition/Healthy Eating category, Fooducate is a free mobile app that uses mobile phones to empower supermarket shoppers to effortlessly make healthy choices. Shoppers can automatically scan the barcodes of food products, and immediately gage their nutritional value. This knowledge leads to healthy purchase decisions.
For every product scanned, Fooducate provides scientific algorithms that generate and categorize it with the letters A, B, C, or D as well as brief explanations and warnings about the nutrients and ingredients displayed. Using this application, each consumer is therefore, one click away from viewing and making healthy food choices. To date, the Fooducate app has been downloaded over 1 million times. It has also been used to scan over 10 million products so far.
I encourage you to be an informed consumer who can promote and protect your own health, by making healthy choices about what you eat. So, get involved and fight for health equity!
To watch the Fooducate video please click here.
“HIT Corner” is brought to you by Dr. Egondu Rosemary Onyejekwe. She serves as the Vice Chair of Communications for the Partnership and a Professor of Health Informatics who teaches at Walden University.
Posted: Tuesday, May 15, 2012
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