Characteristics of smartphone applications for nutrition improvement in community settings: A scoping review

Emma Tonkin, Julie Brimblecombe, Thomas Philip Wycherley

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Smartphone applications are increasingly being used to support nutrition improvement in community settings. However, there is a scarcity of practical literature to support researchers and practitioners in choosing or developing health applications. This work maps the features, key content, theoretical approaches, and methods of consumer testing of applications intended for nutrition improvement in community settings. A systematic, scoping review methodology was used to map published, peer-reviewed literature reporting on applications with a specific nutrition-improvement focus intended for use in the community setting. After screening, articles were grouped into 4 categories: Dietary selfmonitoring trials, nutrition improvement trials, application description articles, and qualitative application development studies. For mapping, studies were also grouped into categories based on the target population and aim of the application or program. Of the 4818 titles identified from the database search, 64 articles were included. The broad categories of features found to be included in applications generally corresponded to different behavior change support strategies common to many classic behavioral change models. Key content of applications generally focused on food composition, with tailored feedback most commonly used to deliver educational content. Consumer testing before application deployment was reported in just over half of the studies. Collaboration between practitioners and application developers promotes an appropriate balance of evidence-based content and functionality. This work provides a unique resource for program development teams and practitioners seeking to use an application for nutrition improvement in community settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)308-322
Number of pages15
JournalAdvances in Nutrition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Behavior change
  • Diet
  • Education
  • Features
  • Health promotion
  • mHealth
  • Mobile applications
  • Public health
  • Systematic

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