Early start: maternal and child nutrition - Development of an app

With the app developed in this project, we aim to coach parents towards healthier food choices for themselves and their child(ren).

Our goal

Around thirty per cent of the Dutch children has a suboptimal start of life due to either preterm birth and/or low birth weight (VWS Actieprogramma Kansrijke Start, 2018) or a too high birth weight (Perined, 2016), which puts them at risk of growth and developmental problems, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and overweight. An adequate nutritional intake before and during pregnancy may prevent this suboptimal start of life.

The GLIMP-II study indicates that only 44 per cent of high educated Dutch women with a pregnancy wish has sufficient EPA and DHA concentrations, and only 33 and 50 per cent reports adequate intakes of vitamin D and folic acid. In line, both the GLIMP-II study and Power4Pregnancy study indicate that few women adhere to the Dutch dietary guidelines (i.e., inadequate intakes of nuts, fish and liquid fats, whole grain products, dairy, fruits and vegetables), which stresses the need for more efficient nutritional coaching in this population.

Currently, midwives provide rather general dietary advice, which is mainly related to acute food related diseases and food safety issues. Although the importance of personalized advice is recognized and has resulted in unique initiatives by health care professionals, knowledge is fragmented and implementation in practice is still not optimal.

Regio Deal Foodvalley

Regio Deal Foodvalley is a cooperation between several educational institutes, organizations and companies primarily within the Foodvalley region. An important goal is to create an environment in which people are stimulated to eat healthy and sustainable. Through connections with many organisations and companies, we hope that knowledge and practice can reach this goal together. The workpackage ‘Early start’ specifically targets parents and parents-to-be in stimulating a healthy dietary pattern for parents as well as their children.

The app

In the Netherlands, we have several apps addressing the aspect of nutrition during pregnancy; the ZwangerHap of the Dutch Nutrition Centre is the most famous one. However, the information provided in existing apps is rather general. Personalized recommendations are considered more effective to initiate behaviour change, which is exactly the component that we aim to address in the development of our app. Our app is developed in cooperation with local companies, organizations, and stakeholders (i.e., health care professionals and parents (to be)).

This project is part of the Regio Deal Foodvalley track 2:’Nutrition and Health, from early start to the old day’ and within this track of workpackage 1: ’Early start’.