The use of mobile applications for dietary purposes has dramatically increased along with the consistent development of mobile technology. Assessing diet quality as a dietary pattern or an indicator across key food groups in comparison to those recommended by dietary guidelines is useful for identifying optimal nutrient intake. This systematic review aims to explore mobile applications and their impact on the diet quality of the user. The electronic databases of The Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (Cinahl), The American Psychological Association’s (APA Psycinfo), and PubMed were systematically searched for randomised and non-randomised controlled trials to retrieve papers from inception to November 2021. Ten studies with 1638 participants were included. A total of 5342 studies were retrieved from the database searches, with 10 articles eligible for final inclusion in the review. The sample sizes ranged from 27 to 732 participants across the included studies, with 1638 total participants. The ratio of female to male participants in the studies was 4:1. The majority of the mobile applications or M-health interventions were used to highlight dietary health changes (six studies), with the remainder used to reduce weight or blood sugar levels (four studies). Each study used a different measure to quantify diet quality. Studies were either assessed by diet quality scoring or individual dietary assessment, of the ten studies, six studies reported an improvement in diet quality following diet-related mobile application use. Mobile applications may be an effective way to improve diet quality in adults; however, there is a need for more targeted and longer-term studies that are expressly designed to investigate the impact using mobile applications has on diet quality.
As society changes so too does the environment around us. Urbanization has become a threat for natural environments. As our understanding of the benefits of nature engagement continues to evolve, it is important to understand what our relationship with nature looks like and how to foster it. With the looming challenge of urbanization it is time to consider alternatives to the outside nature that we are used to. Developments in digital nature and virtual reality may hold the key to helping individuals maintain a connection to nature.
The COVID-19 outbreak has led to major restrictions globally, affecting people’s psychosocial health and their health behaviors. Thus, the purpose of this scoping review was to summarize the available research regarding the nature-health-association in the COVID-19 context. Keywords related to natural environments and COVID-19 were combined to conduct a systematic online search in six major databases. Eligibility criteria were a) published since 2020 with data collected in the COVID-19 context b) peer-reviewed, c) original empirical data collected on human participants, d) investigated the association between natural environments and psychosocial health or health behavior, and e) English, German, or Scandinavian language. Out of 8,568 articles being obtained, we identified 82 relevant articles representing 80 unique studies. Most studies focused on adults in the general population and were predominantly conducted in the USA and Europe. Overall, the findings tentatively indicate that nature mitigates the impact of COVID-19 on psychological health and physical activity. Through thematic analysis of the extracted data, three primary themes were identified: 1) type of nature assessed, 2) psychosocial health and health behaviors investigated, and 3) heterogeneity in the nature-health relationship. Research gaps in the COVID-19 context were identified regarding I) nature characteristics that promote psychosocial health and health behaviors, II) investigations of digital and virtual nature, III) psychological constructs relating to mental health promotion, IV) health behaviors other than physical activity, V) underlying mechanisms regarding heterogeneity in the nature-health relationship based on human, nature, and geographic characteristics, and VI) research focusing on vulnerable groups. Overall, natural environments demonstrate considerable potential in buffering the impact of stressful events on a population level on mental health. However, future research is warranted to fill the mentioned research gaps and to examine the long-term effects of nature exposure during COVID-19.
Immersive Virtual Nature has emerged as a promising tool within clinical as well as health-promotion settings. Combining this technology with physical activity (e.g., walking on a treadmill), thus creating installations for so-called virtual green exercise (VGE), might extend its application to new contexts, such as physical rehabilitation and physical activity promotion, as well as help advancing green exercise research. Unfortunately, developing VGE installations with high restorative value is not an easy task, and challenges such as cyber-sickness may negatively influence the users’ experience. The purpose of the GreenVR project is to i) develop a highly immersive VGE installation and compare two innovative techniques to create VGE settings; and ii) investigate the extent to which VGE can provide psychological, physiological, and behavioural benefits. The VGE installation consisted of a manually driven treadmill connected to a high performance computer and VR-system. One VGE setting was developed as a 360° video, while the other was created as a 3D digital model. Both VGE settings reproduced the same natural environment –a walking path by the river Glomma in Elverum (Norway). A single-blind RCT (ISRCTN ID: 14275608) was designed, with 60 healthy adult volunteers being randomly allocated to one of three conditions: treatment-1 (VGE exposure via 360° video), treatment-2 (VGE exposure via 3D model), control (walking on treadmill without VGE exposure). In each condition, the participants first viewed a brief video-clip designed to elicit negative emotions. Assessment was conducted at three time-points: Baseline (i.e., before the negative emotions elicitation), Pre-exposure (i.e., before the treatment/control), and Post-exposure (i.e., at completion of the treatment/control). Measurements included: presence, cyber sickness, perceived restorativeness of the virtual environments, perceived exertion, blood pressure, heart rate, enjoyment, affect, nature connectedness, and future green exercise intention. Additionally, qualitative information was collected through open-ended questions and by conducting in-depth interviews with a sub-set of participants. The study was approved by the Regional Committees for Medical and Health Research Ethics (REC ID: 134663). We will present the VGE installation as well as preliminary findings.
In launching this Research Topic, our objective was to capture contemporary perspectives on the conceptualization and measurement of human-nature interactions, and advance future research perspectives. The ubiquitous nature of the challenge is exemplified by a diverse and expansive list of countries of our contributors, which ranges among 15 different countries including Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Peru, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, and the USA. Twenty articles were included in the collection. These included an array of approaches, with nine original research articles, two brief research report articles, four perspective articles, two reviews, and three systematic reviews. Many provide novel viewpoints in our understanding of human-nature interactions, in relation to both, the effects of being in contact with nature and potential underlying mechanisms explaining the relationship.