Heather Jantzi Successfully Defends her MSc Thesis

The HEAL would like to congratulate Heather Jantzi who successfully defended her MSc thesis under the supervision of Dr. Jason Gilliland.


Heather Jantzi successfully defended her thesis titled Smartphones for Smart Eating: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Smartphone Applications on Improving Adolescent Food Knowledge. Heather completed her Master of Science in Geography and Environment under the supervision of Dr. Jason Gilliland. During her studies, Heather examined the effectiveness of smartphone applications at improving food knowledge in adolescents through (i) a systematic review of published interventions, and (ii) by investigating the efficacy of a novel location-based smartphone application.

In a review of similar studies, there were mixed findings for the effects of food knowledge on adolescent food knowledge improvements. Some studies reported no change in food knowledge while using a smartphone application, but other researchers found improvements in food knowledge when the application was paired with in-person instruction. Many studies lacked appropriate measurement tools to comprehensively assess food knowledge. The applications in these studies included a variety of theoretical foundations and features, but there was no pattern of features that predicted improved food knowledge. Heather’s research also investigated the effectiveness of a GPS-enabled smartphone application, called “SmartAPPetite”, on adolescent food knowledge in London, Ontario. There was no improvement in food knowledge between participants who used the application and those who did not, but an improvement in food knowledge over time was seen among those who engaged highly with the application. Engagement is a key predictor for food knowledge improvements using a smartphone application and future research should explore ways to increase user engagement.

Findings from this thesis may be helpful for implementing nutrition education programming and can be used in future research that explores the use of smartphone devices for improving health behaviours.

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