Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Development and feasibility testing of a smart phone based attentive eating intervention

Eric Robinson12*, Suzanne Higgs1, Amanda J Daley1, Kate Jolly1, Deborah Lycett14, Amanda Lewis13 and Paul Aveyard13

Author Affiliations

1 University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK

2 Now at University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 7ZA, UK

3 Now at University of Oxford, Oxford OX2 6GG, UK

4 Now at Coventry University, Coventry CV1 5FB, UK

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:639  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-639

Published: 9 July 2013



Attentive eating means eating devoid of distraction and increasing awareness and memory for food being consumed. Encouraging individuals to eat more attentively could help reduce calorie intake, as a strong evidence base suggests that memory and awareness of food being consumed substantially influence energy intake.


The development and feasibility testing of a smartphone based attentive eating intervention is reported. Informed by models of behavioral change, a smartphone application was developed. Feasibility was tested in twelve overweight and obese volunteers, sampled from university staff. Participants used the application during a four week trial and semi-structured interviews were conducted to assess acceptability and to identify barriers to usage. We also recorded adherence by downloading application usage data from participants’ phones at the end of the trial.


Adherence data indicated that participants used the application regularly. Participants also felt the application was easy to use and lost weight during the trial. Thematic analysis indicated that participants felt that the application raised their awareness of what they were eating. Analysis also indicated barriers to using a smartphone application to change dietary behavior.


An attentive eating based intervention using smartphone technology is feasible and testing of its effectiveness for dietary change and weight loss is warranted.

Attentive eating; Memory; Attention; Awareness; Food intake; Mobile phone