If You Won’t Listen to Your Mom, Will You at Least Listen to Your Computer?

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Mothers have always nagged their kids to eat their fruits and vegetables.  Unfortunately, less than 25% of Americans heed their mother’s advice and consume the recommended 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.  The benefits of eating fruits and vegetables are numerous and include a reduced risk of chronic diseases, like stroke, heart disease, and certain cancers.  They can also help you lose or maintain your weight by acting as low-calorie fillers that reduce your appetite.

But if we won’t follow our mothers’ advice, what can we do?  Well, a study published this month in the American Journal of Public Health highlights the effectiveness of an online program that provides diet monitoring and educational information like recipes and serving size recommendations regarding fresh, frozen, and dried fruit and vegetables.  At the end of the 12 month study, participants on average increased their daily intake of fruits and vegetables by 2 servings.  The participants in the test group that had personal e-mail reminders showed on average an even higher increase of 2.8 servings.

While cost will always play a role in the food we buy, it is interesting to note that even during our current recession the cost of fruits and vegetables relative to junk food like ice cream and soda has remained the same.  This fact gives credence to the notion that reminders play an important role in shaping people’s decisions.

It is nice to see technology being used to solve a basic problem in our society. In the end, we all can benefit from a little nagging regarding our diet, regardless of whether it comes from a computer or a mother.

- blog authored by Kiran Sreenivas

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