The development of an Arabic weight-loss app akser waznk: Qualitative results
- Publication Type:
- Journal Article
- Journal of Medical Internet Research, 2019, 21 (3)
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© 2019 Journal of Medical Internet Research. All rights reserved. Background: Obesity and its related illnesses are a major health problem around the world. Saudi Arabia has one of the highest national obesity rates globally; however, it is not easy to intervene to prevent obesity and becoming overweight owing to Saudi Arabia's cultural and social norms, and linguistic barriers. In recent years, there has been an exponential growth in the usage of smartphones and apps in Saudi Arabia. These could be used as a cost-effective tool to facilitate the delivery of behavior-modification interventions for obese and overweight people. There are a variety of health and fitness apps that claim to offer lifestyle-modification tools. However, these do not identify the motivational features required to overcome obesity, consider the evidence-based practices for weight management, or enhance the usability of apps by considering usability attributes. Objective: This study aimed to explore the opportunity and the need to develop an Arabic weight-loss app that provides localized content and addresses the issues with existing apps identified here. This study has explained the steps taken to design an Arabic weight-loss app that was developed to facilitate the adjustment of key nutritional and physical activities and behaviors, which considers the social and cultural norms of Saudi Arabia. Methods: Qualitative studies were conducted with 26 obese Saudi Arabians, who tested the level of usability of 2 weight-loss apps and then provided feedback and recommendations. The app Akser Waznk is an interactive, user-friendly app designed primarily for iPhones. It has several features intended to assist users to monitor and track their food consumption and physical activities. The app provides personalized diet and weight loss advice. Unique features such as Let's Walk are designed to motivate users to walk more. An augmented reality function is implemented to provide information regarding fitness equipment, fruits, and vegetables. The app uses behavior-change techniques to increase activities and healthy behaviors and evidence-informed practices for weight-loss management. The Akser Waznk app considers user privacy and data security by applying a number of guidelines and procedures. Results: The development of the app took 26 months. In all, 7 experts (5 dietitians, and 2 physical activity professionals) evaluated the app's contents. Moreover, 10 potential users (5 men and 5 women) tested the app's level of usability, its features, and performance during a pilot study. They reported that the app's design is interactive, and the motivational features are user-friendly. Conclusions: Mobile technology, such as mobile apps, has the potential to be an effective tool that facilitates the changing of unhealthy lifestyle behaviors within the Saudi community. To be successful, the target group, the usability, motivational features, and social and cultural norms must be considered.
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