Practical Apps 12: Changing Behaviour with Apps
Dr. Payal Agarwal
Carrot Rewards provides Canadians in B.C., Ontario and Newfoundland with rewards points for completing educational quizzes and improving their activity levels. Created with a unique public-private partnership, Carrot Rewards works with health agencies, including the Public Health Agency of Canada, to encourage priority health behaviours among the population. Users earn real points on one of several popular reward programs for common items like gas, movies and flights by tracking activity levels and completing educational quizzes.
The app syncs with common fitness trackers and rewards users for meeting challenges to increase their step count. While there are no studies showing positive impact on activity levels, it is evident that the company uses known behaviour change concepts to drive healthy behaviours. The app is well designed, with a pleasant and intuitive interface. It has broad appeal and will be relevant to all but the most motivated and knowledgeable patients. Overall, despite the lack of clear evidence of effectiveness, this app has few drawbacks and can be a tool regularly recommended by primary care providers as part of an ongoing partnership to promote healthy behaviours in their patients.
My Food Guide
This simple app created by Health Canada enables users to review Canada’s Food Guide and explore food options in each category. While it has a relatively limited feature set, its bright visuals and easy navigation make it enjoyable to use. The app focuses on understanding nutrition using food groups and not calories, as most apps do. This is likely better for some patients. Users can add foods they enjoy to each food group. There is no way to track daily intake. The app collects minimal health information and is being actively updated. Overall, this app is likely too basic for many patients motivated to improve their health but would be helpful for those who need to learn the basics of nutrition and require a simple, easy-to-use app to get them started.
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