An app to help you find out what’s in the food you’re eating, so you can make simple switches to healthier options.
By George Institute for Global Health
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What does the app do?
This app allows you to search and compare nutritional information on food products. By scanning the barcode of a food label, you get easy-to-interpret nutritional information presented using colour-coded, traffic light labels of red, amber and green. You get immediate suggestions for healthier alternative foods or products.
The app has 3 main selections — Foodswitch, SaltSwitch and GlutenSwitch.
- Foodswitch is handy for any shopper, as it compares products based on energy, fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt content.
- SaltSwitch is useful if you are on a salt-restricted diet, eg, if you have high blood pressure or kidney disease. The app tries to identify similar products with a healthier profile and less salt.
- GlutenSwitch is useful if you are looking for gluten-free products. The app tries to identify similar products that are reported as gluten free.
If the product you are searching for is not found in the app database, you are prompted to send through photos of the front package, nutritional panel and ingredients. For a more detailed description of the app, see Google Play or iTunes and, for a detailed review, see Reviews.
Note: This app was developed jointly by the National Institute for Health Innovation (NIHI), New Zealand, and the George institute, Australia. Because NIHI became unable to support the app licence costs, the app no longer includes New Zealand supermarket data. This means its name has changed from FoodSwitch App NZ to FoodSwitch App. It also means this version is out of date in terms of products found in New Zealand. It does, however, include a crowd sourcing feature to improve it over time.
✔ Food star system is easy to use.
✔ Can keep a favourites or recent list.
✘ Serving size shown as 100g so you need to be careful with the amount you’re actually eating.
- June 2020: Version 2.4, Android
- July 2018: Version 2.2, Android (FoodSwitch New Zealand)
The following references relate to articles about apps for weight loss.
Dunford E, Trevena H, Goodsell C, et al. FoodSwitch: A mobile phone app to enable consumers to make healthier food choices and crowdsourcing of national food composition data JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2014 Aug 21;2(3):e37.
Coughlin SS, Whitehead M, Sheats JQ. Smartphone applications for promoting healthy diet and nutrition: a literature review Jacobs J Food Nutr. 2015;2(3):021.
Chen J, Cade JE, Allman-Farinelli M. The most popular smartphone apps for weight loss: a quality assessment JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2015 Dec 16;3(4):e104. doi: 10.2196/mhealth.4334.
Flores Mateo G, Granado-Font E, Ferré-Grau C, Montaña-Carreras X. Mobile phone apps to promote weight loss and increase physical activity: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Med Internet Res. 2015 Nov 10;17(11):e253. doi: 10.2196/jmir.4836.
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