Fooducate is an app for the iPhone and Android that allows consumers to get easy-to-understand information about the quality of a product by scanning the bar code with their smart phone. A first-place winner of the U.S. Surgeon General’s Healthy Apps Challenge, Fooducate was developed by dieticians and parents to help consumers see through some of the “tricks” product manufacturers use to conceal unhealthy ingredients, including artificial food colorings (which are controversial among nutritionists and scientists), high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats (which can legally “hide” in foods in small amounts), and various additives.
The U.S. Surgeon General recently challenged mobile device application developers to come up with apps that would “provide tailored health information and empower users to engage in and enjoy healthy behavior.” The first place winner in the Fitness/Physical Activity category was Lose It!, an app designed to help users lose weight. According to the Lose It! website, the average user loses 12.3 pounds with the help of the app, with a 99% success rate (defined as losing any amount of weight) over 4 weeks.
A new study published in the online journal PLoS ONE demonstrates that diners mimic the eating patterns of their dining companions, matching them bite-for-bite . The researchers studied pairs of young women who did not know one another, and found that they influenced each other with regard to eating patterns. Particularly within the first ten minutes of dining together, the women tended to mimic each other, taking bites of food within five seconds of one another.
Last month, First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack unveiled the federal government’s new food icon, MyPlate. MyPlate is a new generation icon with the intent to prompt consumers to think about building a healthy plate at meal times. The new icon will replace the MyPyramid image as the government’s primary food group symbol as an easy-to-understand visual cue to help consumers adopt healthy eating habits consistent with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans .