Design guidelines for a technology-enabled nutrition education program to support overweight and obese adolescents: Qualitative user-centered design study


Background: Childhood overweight and obesity are major health challenges in the United States. One of the recommendations to combat obesity is to maintain a healthy diet, which is often best supported by eating home-cooked meals to control cooking methods, ingredients, and portions. Diet control through home cooking is challenged because of the decline in culinary skills in the population and a paucity of effective culinary nutrition education (CNE) programs. Providing technology-enabled CNE (CNE-tech) to overweight and obese adolescents can equip them with life skills that can assist them in the future. Such skills can facilitate saving money, eating healthier, and creating social environments. In addition, CNE builds cooking confidence and food literacy that in turn can build adolescent self-efficacy, particularly toward managing their health behaviors. Conclusions: We demonstrate the potentiality of creating CNE-tech that could effectively lead to better self-care and induce sustainable behavioral change as it facilitates skill building, self-efficacy, and a pathway that enables overweight and obese adolescents to influence cooking habits in their family home and future dwellings. Our CNE-tech-proposed solution aligns with the goals of overweight and obese adolescents and also reflects existing theories about behavioral change. Methods: The design science study was completed in 2 distinct phases engaging overweight and obese adolescents, parents of overweight and obese adolescents, and the health care providers that treat adolescents with these conditions. Phase 2, our primary source of data, involved user-centered design methods including the following: (1) early stage prototype usability analysis, (2) semistructured interviews with 70 overweight or obese adolescents engaged in a healthy behavior program, and (3) semistructured interviews with 10 health care providers. Data were analyzed using constant comparison analysis to identify functionalities, design requirements, and inform the context of use of CNE-tech. Objective: This study aimed to inform functionalities, design requirements, and the context of use for CNE-tech that could enhance overweight and obese adolescents' healthy food literacy, cooking confidence, and general self-efficacy with regard to self-management to ultimately promote healthy lifestyle management. Results: Data revealed specific desired functionalities for the CNE-tech related to building cooking skills, populating a healthy recipe database, suggesting healthy alternatives, supporting the construction of a healthy plate, and the ability to share healthy recipes and cooking accomplishments. Moreover, the adolescents provided design requirements pertaining to the presentation (eg, vivid colors, semirealistic images, and cooking sounds), use of multimedia, and gaming. Data further revealed contextual factors, such as shared experiences with family members and enhanced continued use.

Publication Title

Journal of Medical Internet Research