Macquarie University
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Exploring the development and use of mobile apps to promote a sustainable and healthy diet in young adults

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posted on 2024-07-03, 04:07 authored by Saneeya Fatima Hussain

The prevailing global food systems contribute to adverse environmental impacts and chronic diseases, underscoring the urgency for dietary transformation. Despite efforts in promoting healthy dietary behaviours among young adults, there has been minimal success. It is imperative to instigate a significant shift in current dietary behaviours to promote both optimal health and environmental conservation, with a specific focus on advocating sustainable and healthy habits for young adults. Current evidence indicates that young adults may be more susceptible to nutrition education through mobile applications (apps); however, the effectiveness of mobile app-based interventions in promoting sustainable and healthy diets remains uncertain.

This thesis comprises two studies: 1) a systematic literature review investigating the effectiveness of mobile app interventions on sustainable dietary outcomes in young adults; and 2) a qualitative study using semi-structured interviews to explore the utilisation of mobile apps by young Australians in monitoring and adhering to healthy dietary behaviours.

Findings from the systematic literature review suggested the promising role of mobile apps in promoting some aspects of sustainable diets, with a primary focus on notable increases in fruit and vegetable intake and enhancements in nutritional knowledge among young adults. The reviewed studies consistently demonstrated that mobile applications were associated with positive changes in dietary behaviours, particularly in encouraging the consumption of plant-based and nutrient-dense foods. However, there was a lack of interventions targeting multiple aspects of sustainable and healthy diets. The qualitative study identified some enablers, such as the inclusion of visual representation of dietary information and the positive impact of mobile apps on nutritional literacy among young adults. It also identified barriers such as stress and trust issues, emphasising the need for user-friendly interfaces and improved app database reliability. Key features for future app development, including educational elements, personalisation, and convenience, were highlighted, offering valuable insights into optimising digital interventions for the effective promotion of sustainable diets.

In conclusion, this thesis provides promising evidence on the use of mobile apps in promoting sustainable and healthy diets among young adults. The findings from both the v systematic literature review and qualitative study emphasise the need for future interventions to encompass diverse components of sustainable and healthy diets, addressing existing gaps in current strategies. The identified barriers in mobile app usage underscore the importance of refining features, ensuring user-friendly interfaces, and mitigating issues of trust and stress. By highlighting these barriers, the thesis offers a roadmap for designing more robust and impactful digital interventions. Ultimately, this research contributes valuable knowledge to inform policy decisions and guide stakeholders in developing evidence-based strategies for fostering positive dietary behaviours in the digital age.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Literature Review -- Chapter 2. Use of Mobile Apps to Promote a Sustainable and Healthy Diet in Young Adults: A Systematic Literature Review -- Chapter 3. Australian Young Adults Experiences in Using Mobile Apps for Dietary Intake -- Chapter 4. Discussion and Conclusion

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


Master of Public Health (Research)

Department, Centre or School

Department of Health Sciences

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Rimante Ronto

Additional Supervisor 1

Seema Mihrshahi


Copyright: The Author Copyright disclaimer:




88 pages

Former Identifiers

AMIS ID: 352452

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