DUBLIN — Changing the way food options and information is presented on food delivery apps, as well as default smaller portions, may encourage healthier selections, lowering the calorie intake by 4%-15%, show three new randomized trials from the UK.
The prominent positioning of low-calorie menu items, and restaurants with low-calorie main meals, on a food app emerged as the most promising approach to promote healthier eating, followed by preselecting smaller portions by default, and finally calorie labels.
That’s according to Anna Keleher, MPA, a behavioral scientist at Nesta, London, UK, as reported at the European Congress on Obesity (ECO) meeting.
“Many out-of-home meals have more calories than meals cooked in-home and using delivery apps is linked with a higher risk of becoming overweight or obese,” she remarked.
“We’re interested in understanding more about delivery apps because they can be modified at scale easily and can reach millions of people with interventions to promote healthier and more nutritious options in these settings.”
Food delivery apps have surged in use in the UK with a 55% increase since 2015; examples include Uber Eats, Just Eat, and Deliveroo.
“This trend is similar in the US, with more and more consumers using delivery apps to buy food,” said Keleher, who is also a senior advisor at the Behavioral Insights Team in New York.
Emma Boyland, PhD, an obesity psychologist from Liverpool University, UK, said:
“Apps are an increasingly popular way for people to buy food and the virtual food environment is becoming as prominent as the physical food environment in how we go about obtaining meals … “