Eating three types of vegetables in an evening meal is a key marker in having a better diet – but how to encourage people to do so?

The CSIRO has come up with an app for that by gamifying vegetable intake: it has launched VegEze, which aims to motivate Australians to add extra veggies to their diet and collect data on its own effectiveness.

Uses will be able to take part in a 21-day “Do 3 at Dinner” challenge, while the app helps them track their intake and tally up vegetable scores, as well as provide daily reminders and rewards.

We need a fresh approach to improve Australia’s vegetable consumption and overall diet quality,” says CSIRO Senior Principal Research Scientist Professor Manny Noakes.

“Our research found two out of three Australian adults are not eating enough vegetables, especially as part of their evening meal. It’s time to find more engaging, effective approaches to help break these entrenched diet habits.

VegEze. Image: CSIRO

“After just a few weeks using the app every day, users should feel more confident in adding more vegetables to their menu and notice some positive changes to their health and wellbeing.”

CSIRO has been studying the dietary habits of more than 191,000 adults in its Healthy Diet Score research.

Eating three types of vegetables as part of the evening meal was found to be a key marker in having a better diet, but further research of 1068 adults showed some Australians were being held back from eating more vegetables by low awareness, lack of time and low confidence.

To help people overcome these barriers, the VegEze app features educational resources such as a visual guide to specific vegetable serve sizes, vegetable recipes, nutritional information and motivational rewards.

Information from app users will feed back into CSIRO’s study of Australians’ vegetable consumption, while helping to analyse the app’s effectiveness as an education initiative to improve Australia’s poor vegetable score card.

VegEze has been developed in partnership with Hort Innovation.