Viewpoint: App offers hope

Sonia Pombo explains how a new app might help to cut people’s salt intake and weight

With one adult in four in the UK now classified as obese, promoting healthy eating has never been more important. We all know that the key to a healthy lifestyle is staying active and eating healthily, but our reliance on convenient, processed foods, which contain varying quantities of fat, sugars and salt, makes it extremely difficult. Nonetheless, with heart disease and diabetes affecting so many people and costing the NHS billions of pounds each year, it’s clear that we all need to make the extra effort to look after ourselves.

We can all do something to improve our health, and you don’t need a nutrition degree to know what’s good for you and what’s not. Front of pack nutrition labelling is one simple yet effective way of encouraging people to make small changes in their diet. Many companies now follow the same labelling system, which uses colours to highlight whether your food is high or low in fat, saturates, sugar and salt. This consistent way of displaying important nutrients in your food means it’s now relatively easy to understand the labels and chose healthier options.

Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) is big on healthier eating, as we know all too well the effects a poor diet can have on health; a high salt diet, for example, leads to raised blood pressure, increasing your chances of developing heart disease.

This is why we created a great new smartphone app called FoodSwitch. FoodSwitch is an award-winning app that allows you for the first time to scan the barcodes of your food and drink products and instantly see whether they are high (red), medium (amber) or low (green) in fat, saturates, sugars and salt.  What’s unique about the app is that it also searches the database of nearly 100,000 products for similar but healthier products, making it easier than ever to switch to healthier foods. The free smartphone app can be found on the NHS Health Apps Libraryand can be downloaded from iTunes or Google Play.

As health professionals, we must embrace technology and acknowledge the potential benefits health apps can have on people’s health! FoodSwitch UK is a great app to direct patients to if they are looking to eat healthier.  See here for more information. 

Sonia Pombo, nutritionist, Consensus Action on Salt and Health

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