Healthc Inform Res.  2018 Jan;24(1):38-45. 10.4258/hir.2018.24.1.38.

Evaluating the Dietary and Nutritional Apps in the Google Play Store

  • 1The CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, New York, NY, USA.


The objective of this study was to evaluate the features of diet and nutrition apps available in the Google Play Store.
A search was conducted in August 2017 using the Google Play Store database to identify apps related to diet and nutrition. Terms entered into the app search engine included "˜diet apps' and "˜nutrition apps'. The first 50 apps resulting from each search term was assessed. Duplicates were removed, and a comparative analysis was performed on the remaining diet and nutrition apps.
A total of 86 diet and nutrition apps were identified. One hundred percent (n = 86) of the apps retrieved were freely available. More than half of the apps were applicable to a target user group of all ages (94%, n = 81). Stratified analysis across unique diet and nutrition apps (total, n = 72) showed a higher average rating for the diet apps (4.4) in comparison to that for the nutrition apps (4.3). Diet apps were more likely to be recently updated than the nutrition apps (72% vs. 66%), and diet apps were more likely to feature app purchase than nutrition apps (36% vs. 19%). The average rating was slightly higher for diet apps not featuring in-app purchases, but ratings were similar for the nutrition apps.
A centralized resource is needed that can provide information on health-related apps to allow for systematic evaluation of their effectiveness. Further research needs to examine improved methods of designing app-store platforms and presenting the available apps to properly guide users in app selection.


Diet, Food, and Nutrition; Smartphone; Mobile Applications; Consumer Health Information; Evaluation Studies

MeSH Terms

Consumer Health Information
Diet, Food, and Nutrition
Mobile Applications
Search Engine


  • Figure 1 Search strategy for diet and nutrition apps in the Google Android Play Store.


1. Direito A, Dale LP, Shields E, Dobson R, Whittaker R, Maddison R. Do physical activity and dietary smartphone applications incorporate evidence-based behavior change techniques? BMC Public Health. 2014; 14:646.
2. Xu W, Liu Y. mHealthApps: a repository and database of mobile health apps. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2015; 3(1):e28.
3. Smith A. Chapter one: a portrait of smartphone ownership [Internet]. Washington (DC): Pew Research Center;c2015. cited at 2018 Jan 10. Available from:
4. Higgins JP. Smartphone applications for patients' health and fitness. Am J Med. 2016; 129(1):11–19.
5. Mayneris-Perxachs J, Sala-Vila A, Chisaguano M, Castellote AI, Estruch R, Covas MI, et al. Effects of 1-year intervention with a Mediterranean diet on plasma fatty acid composition and metabolic syndrome in a population at high cardiovascular risk. PLoS One. 2014; 9(3):e85202.
6. Wharton CM, Johnston CS, Cunningham BK, Sterner D. Dietary self-monitoring, but not dietary quality, improves with use of smartphone app technology in an 8-week weight loss trial. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2014; 46(5):440–444.
7. McIlroy S, Ali N, Hassan AE. Fresh apps: an empirical study of frequently-updated mobile apps in the Google play store. Empir Softw Eng. 2016; 21(3):1346–1370.
8. Harman M, Jia Y, Zhang Y. App store mining and analysis: MSR for app stores. In : Proceedings of 2012 9th IEEE Working Conference on Mining Software Repositories (MSR); 2012 Jun 2; Zurich, Switzerland. p. 108–111.
9. Dogtiev A. App download and usage statistics 2017 [Internet]. Staines-upon-Thames, UK: Business of Apps;c2018. cited at 2018 Jan 10. Available from:
10. Klieger DM. Saunders essentials of medical assisting. 2nd ed. St. Louis (MO): Elsevier Health Sciences;2010.
11. Vandelanotte C, Caperchione CM, Ellison M, George ES, Maeder A, Kolt GS, et al. What kinds of website and mobile phone-delivered physical activity and nutrition interventions do middle-aged men want? J Health Commun. 2013; 18(9):1070–1083.
12. Morrison LG, Hargood C, Lin SX, Dennison L, Joseph J, Hughes S, et al. Understanding usage of a hybrid website and smartphone app for weight management: a mixedmethods study. J Med Internet Res. 2014; 16(10):e201.
13. Coughlin SS, Whitehead M, Sheats JQ, Mastromonico J, Hardy D, Smith SA. Smartphone applications for promoting healthy diet and nutrition: a literature review. Jacobs J Food Nutr. 2015; 2(3):021.
14. West JH, Hall PC, Hanson CL, Barnes MD, Giraud-Carrier C, Barrett J. There's an app for that: content analysis of paid health and fitness apps. J Med Internet Res. 2012; 14(3):e72.
15. Huckvale K, Prieto JT, Tilney M, Benghozi PJ, Car J. Unaddressed privacy risks in accredited health and wellness apps: a cross-sectional systematic assessment. BMC Med. 2015; 13:214.
16. Stawarz K, Cox AL, Blandford A. Don't forget your pill!: designing effective medication reminder apps that support users' daily routines. In : Proceedings of the 32nd Annual ACM Conference on Human factors in Computing Systems; 2014 Apr 26–May 1; Toronto, Canada. p. 2269–2278.
17. Fu B, Lin J, Li L, Faloutsos C, Hong J, Sadeh N. Why people hate your app: Making sense of user feedback in a mobile app store. In : Proceedings of the 19th ACM SIGKDD International Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining; 2013 Aug 11–14; Chicago, IL. p. 1276–1284.
18. Pagano D, Maalej W. User feedback in the appstore: an empirical study. In : Proceedings of the 21st IEEE International Requirements Engineering Conference (RE); 2013 Jul 15–19; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. p. 125–134.
19. Payne HE, Lister C, West JH, Bernhardt JM. Behavioral functionality of mobile apps in health interventions: a systematic review of the literature. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2015; 3(1):e20.
20. Khalid H, Shihab E, Nagappan M, Hassan AE. What do mobile app users complain about? IEEE Softw. 2015; 32(3):70–77.
Full Text Links
  • HIR
export Copy
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
Similar articles
Copyright © 2023 by Korean Association of Medical Journal Editors. All rights reserved.     E-mail: