Evaluating the Change4Life Food Scanner app in reducing children's sugar intake: a randomised pilot and feasibility study

Sundus Mahdi, Jim Chilcott, Nicola J. Buckland

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting abstractpeer-review


BACKGROUND: The Change4Life Food Scanner app displays nutritional information using visual images alongside traffic light labels. The app's effectiveness for improving dietary choices is unknown. This study investigated the feasibility and acceptability of evaluating the effectiveness of the Food Scanner app in reducing children's sugar intake in the UK. METHODS: Adopting a non-blinded parallel trial design, we randomly assigned (1:1) 126 parents of children aged 4-11 years through block randomisation sequences into a 3-month intervention consisting of exposure to the Change4Life Food Scanner app (version 1.6; ie, the intervention group [n=62]) or no intervention (ie, the control group [n=64]). Participants completed baseline and 3-month post-intervention measures of dietary intake (3-day food diary) and trial acceptability measures. The intervention group completed fortnightly app engagement measures. Ethical approval was obtained by the University of Sheffield Research Ethics Committee (026380). FINDINGS: 64 (51%) of 126 participants completed the study (29 [45%] in the intervention group and 35 [55%] in the control group). 51 (80%) of 64 reported that the study was easy to complete and 62 (97%) found receiving task completion reminders helpful. App engagement decreased throughout the study (eg, mean engagement time was 18·01 min [SD 27·15] in week 2, and 6·76 min [11·56] in week 12). 18 (64%) of 28 participants reported high overall app acceptability; however, seven (25%) did not find the app helpful. 24 (86%) of 28 reported high acceptability for the app's use of sugar cube images, which were rated as easy to understand and useful to supplement front of package nutritional labels. Six (21%) of 28 did not find sugar cube images helpful and 20 (71%) had low acceptability of the app aiding food purchasing decisions. 45 (73%) of 62 were willing to continue with the study for a 12-month trial. INTERPRETATION: Despite a high attrition rate, study procedures were considered acceptable by most participants. Acceptability of the Food Scanner app was varied, and participants did not find the app helpful for food purchases. Analysis of preliminary efficacy of the intervention is ongoing, which will inform design parameters for a future large-scale trial. FUNDING: Wellcome Trust.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberS13
Number of pages1
JournalLancet (London, England)
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2022

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