Microsoft is trialling the use of a new smartphone solution that helps its staff eat more healthily.
Initially rolled out at the company’s offices in Bellevue, Washington State, Zipongo provides food and recipe recommendations for users which are personalised for each individual.
According to the World Heart Federation, people who eat a diet low in saturated fats and with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables experience 73% fewer cardiac events than people who follow a typical American diet. A study from the Journal of the American Medical Association also found that what people eat is three times more crucial to health than physical activity.
“If you think you’re reducing your risk of heart attack, stroke and high blood pressure by solely focusing on exercise, think again,” said Dr. Dennis Schmuland, chief health strategy officer for US Health and Life Sciences at Microsoft, in a blog post. “If you’re not making healthy food choices, you could actually be negating the protective benefits of your workout routine.”
The Microsoft Benefits team began a search for the best way to help the company’s employees and their families eat more healthily back in 2014.
“It had to be a program that worked for everyone, was easy to implement, and would take advantage of the reality that we’re all dual users – the idea that we want to use the same, not different applications and devices, regardless of whether we’re at work, home or elsewhere,” said Schmuland. “Unlike working out in the gym three hours a week, eating healthier is more like an around-the-clock marathon that no one has trained for. What we want and need is a personal trainer that’s always by our side, ready to lend us a helping hand, especially at our weakest moments when temptations run high.”
With Zipongo, users initially take an online food and diet questionnaire. The app then delivers healthy recipe options and lunch recommendations from the Microsoft cafeteria to users, based on their dietary preferences and allergy restrictions.
Zipongo sets up tailored meal plans, helps users create shopping lists, and shows the latest deals and bargains and nearby grocery stores.
The app is available to access from any location thanks to native apps across iOS, Android and Windows Phone. Windows Phones running 8.1 do have access to extra features however, providing users with the ability to schedule favourite recipes and meals directly in an Outlook calendar, to share recipes with family and friends via OneNote, and to save their most-loved recipes to a Favorites list.
The trial period at Bellevue will last for three months, and if successful, may be implemented across all of Microsoft’s campuses.
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