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Communications of the ACM

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­mass Medical School, Wpi Developing Smartphone App to Address Stress Eating

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One example of stress eating.

A smartphone app under development will help users better understand why they overeat.

Credit: University of Massachusetts Medical School

A stress-eating smartphone app to help users better understand why they overeat is being developed by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI).

The RELAX app will have a mobile application enabling patients to track their daily activities using a smartphone and a Web-based tool clinicians can use to access patient information to help with treatment.

"We want to use technology to help patients in real time, during their daily activities, and also to enhance the effectiveness of the time they spend face-to-face with their physician or counselor," says WPI professor Bengisu Tulu.

The RELAX patient app will track eating patterns, daily activities, exercise, patient mood, and stress-inducing events by analyzing text inputs, barcode scanning, and global-positioning system technology.

"Imagine a person driving into the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant, at a certain time of day, and getting prompted with a message asking them to think about what they are feeling and whether or not it is the right time to eat," Tulu says.

She says the interactive design and the clinician's ability to engage with the patient in a more data-rich way will enable a more comprehensive approach to counseling patients about weight and stress management.

From University of Massachusetts Medical School
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