The Individual Snack Buddy application was iteratively designed and developed based on the Family Snack Buddy application. Instead of supporting families and interactions between family members, this application focuses on individuals and their personal efforts towards improving their snacking behaviors. The Individual Snack Buddy application is built on the same foundation of dietary self-monitoring and healthier snack suggestions as the Family Snack Buddy application. In addition to those basic features, we designed and implemented three new features that were informed by theories of health behavior from psychology.
The Individual Snack Buddy application communicates with a SOAP web service running on a LAMP stack. In the research study we conducted with the application, the web service was deployed on AWS EC2, which provided the flexibility for scaling the service as needed.
The web service syncs the most up-to-date version of the Snack database, which the research team updates based on the “new snacks” users request. Users’ interactions with the application, including the snacks they enter and the diaries they create, are logged and synced to the web service.
The Individual Snack Buddy application is built upon the foundation of self-monitoring snacking behavior. Users enter the snacks they eat, receive feedback on the healthiness of those snacks, and receive ideas for healthier snacks they could try. In addition to this basic functionality, we designed three features informed by the Integrated Behavioral Model:
- The daily diary aims to improve users’ attitudes towards healthy snacking by prompting them to reflect on positive outcomes that come from eating healthier snacks. The feature prompts users with the question, “What is one good thing about eating healthy snacks today?” and then provides space for them to write an unstructured response or take a picture of something that represents that good thing. Users revisit and view the diary entries that they create in a list.
- The personal snack history aims to increase users’ self-efficacy by highlighting their previous healthy snacking accomplishments. Specifically, the feature lists the snacks an individual has entered, organized by day, and highlights the healthier snacks they have entered with green text to draw the user’s attention to them (those with >= 4 stars). In addition, the personal snack history generates a daily list of health snacking highlights that pops-up once a day when the user accesses the personal snack history. The daily highlight list is generated based on specific healthy snacking behaviors the individual exhibits, such as improving their snacking over time, having their healthiest snacking day, or eating a greater number of produce instead of junk food.
- The social stream updates three times a day and presents users with a list of healthy eating highlights aggregated from other people who are similar to themselves.