TSU Institute of Nutrition of the Future is working on a student health improvement project. Using a special phone app, students will be able to buy healthful snacks from vending machines dotted around the Tomsk State University campus and receive personal recommendations on healthful eating. To create recommendations, the scientists will rely on a survey on students' eating habits conducted in the fall season.
Research in the project Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Health: Fundamentals and Controlling Techniques is part of the strategic project Engineering Biology, with the support of the strategic and academic leadership program Priority 2030. The project lead is Leonid Kapilevich, head of the Department of Sports and Health Tourism, Sports Physiology, and Medicine of the TSU Faculty of Physical Education.
According to Leonid Kapilevich, there needs to be a comprehensive approach to solving challenges of healthful eating, so the TSU Institute of Nutrition of the Future branches out to multiple spheres in their work.
“For more than five years, our department, together with the Laboratory of Health Management and Physical Activity, has been doing research on the fundamental aspects of nutrition: we are studying metabolic disorders and human physical activity. In the current project, we are looking for ways to solve the challenges of healthful eating in all of its aspects. We are trying to answer the question: how and what should a human eat if they wish to care about their health? We are also pushing the idea of healthful eating and doing sociological monitoring on its spread throughout the campus; in the long run, we plan to launch the production of healthful food items for our students,” shares Kapilevich.
Students will be able to buy fresh, healthful food in the so-called fresh boxes found in different corners of the campus. To buy something from these vending machines, one simply will have to install a special phone app created by the developers at the TSU Institute of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science. The app will allow you to check the range of products and availability of certain food items, reserve a product, pay for selected items, and receive your order from a specific smart refrigerator using the individual barcode. It will be possible to make an order in advance and pick it up later from a specific machine on the territory of the campus.
In the fall of 2022, the institute's scientists conducted a survey among students to determine their eating preferences. These studies will help develop recommendations on the optimal choice of food. Students will be receiving these recommendations through the app as well, and motion sensors for counting steps and a calorie counter will be integrated into the app. The university is offering discounts on products from fresh boxes to those interested in the experiment and willing to connect their app to the institute's database, to allow scientists to track the frequency of purchases, analyze preferences, and receive feedback.
Another area of application of this project is experimental studies of how nutrition affects health and how to potentially adjust the state of at-risk groups of people with certain diseases. Scientists at the TSU Institute of Nutrition of the Future select substances and food components that fit people with certain disorders, to help prevent disease progression. Laboratory studies are currently underway, and certain results have already been achieved; specific recommendations will appear by the end of 2023.