Healthy eating app snapped up with 30,000 downloads

Dr Helen Eyles of the National Institute for Health Innovations shows the food package scanning iPhone app Foodswitch.Photo / Chris Gorman
Dr Helen Eyles of the National Institute for Health Innovations shows the food package scanning iPhone app Foodswitch.Photo / Chris Gorman

A smartphone application to help consumers make healthy food choices has been snapped up, with 30,000 downloads since its launch in August.

Foodswitch allows users to scan the barcode of packaged foods using their smartphone camera, and they should then receive immediate nutritional advice on the product.

The app also offers users healthier choices of the same type of food.

The free app was originally developed in Australia by The George Institute for Global Health and tailored for New Zealand shoppers by The National Institute for Health Innovation (NIHI) at Auckland University.

It originally had nutritional information of more than 8000 packaged food products found in supermarkets here and since then consumers have sent in more than 6000 new food products, most of which have been added to the app.

Institute researcher and nutritionist Helen Eyles said the team was pleased with the number of people using the application.

"[We] hope we can help even more people to make healthier food choices in the future. About 60 per cent of New Zealand adults own a smartphone, and this number is growing all the time."

There were also plans to release filters to meet the needs of different types of consumers, such as those interested in salt, or gluten free products.

When the app was launched, Heart Foundation public health adviser Maggie McGregor said it strongly supported any tool that made it easier for people make healthy food choices.

"We need more tools that use modern technology that people are using to help them get on with the world and making day-to-day choices."

- APNZ

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