Eating for 2: A Systematic Review of Dutch App Stores for Apps Promoting a Healthy Diet during Pregnancy

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Abstract

A healthy diet during pregnancy has been associated with beneficial child and maternal health outcomes but is challenging to achieve. Recent technological advances offer new opportunities to support pregnant women in their food choices - for instance, via apps. This is already reflected by a wide availability of pregnancy-related apps, but health care professionals feel unsure about their potential. Therefore, the Dutch Google Play Store and Apple App Store were reviewed to identify existing apps on diet and pregnancy. App quality was assessed using the 1) Mobile App Rating Scale (MARS; i.e., assessing functionality, aesthetics, engagement, information quality), 2) Dutch dietary guidelines for pregnant women, and 3) App Behavior Change Scale (ABACUS). Fifty-seven unique apps were identified with an average star rating of 4.2 ± 0.6 and MARS quality score of 3.2 ± 0.3, indicating a moderate quality. Most apps scored best in terms of functionality and aesthetics (4.0 ± 0.4 and 3.3 ± 0.6), but lowest in terms of engagement (2.5 ± 0.6). Regarding nutrition information provision, most apps were incomplete or deviated from the Dutch guidelines. Folic acid supplementation (91%), hygiene (81%), caffeine (79%), and alcohol (77%) were the most commonly addressed nutrition aspects, whereas licorice (11%), iodine (19%), and soy (18%) were only addressed in a few apps. Moreover, a median of 2 out of 21 ABACUS behavior change items were identified per app, which were predominantly related to the category "knowledge and information."Thus, despite the abundance of apps supporting a healthy diet during pregnancy in the Dutch app stores, there is an urgent need for apps with complete and scientifically sound dietary information that is supported by effective behavior change techniques.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbernzac087
JournalCurrent Developments in Nutrition
Volume6
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022

Keywords

  • apps
  • behavior change techniques
  • diet during pregnancy
  • dietary assistance
  • mHealth
  • mobile applications
  • periconceptional diet
  • pregnancy
  • quality assessment

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