An application concept to support infant obesity prevention has taken out the Merit award in the Research and Development Category at the iAwards in Canberra.
The app is the brainchild of Alix O’Hara, award-winning visionary and mission-driven entrepreneur. Alix’s mission, and that of her company, Mashblox Pty Ltd, is to support the prevention of obesity in our society, beginning with infant self-feeding. Previous interventions over the last 30 years have not decreased obesity rates which continue to rise, affecting individual participation and placing large burdens on our health systems.
“My aim is to have a positive social impact by supporting children to learn about eating through self-feeding, and ultimately change our cultural relationship with food.”
“Through Mashblox, infants learn to listen to their bodies, rather than just being obedient to how much a carer might think they need,” Alix explains. “With obesity rates ever increasing and now affecting infants, the world needs it to rethink how our new generations are learning about food and eating. It’s clear we’re doing something very wrong.”
This app represents a world first three-sided clinical trial app in infant obesity prevention, connecting multinational Universities directly with consumers; and connecting parents directly with renowned expert tips & tactics for shaping healthy feeding behaviours through machine learning of their child’s own unique quirks, whilst teaching them the best of self-feeding practices and how to use Mashblox® to support self-feeding.
It is the product of collaboration between four Universities, award-winning tech partner Super App Bros, and Tara O’Connell from the famous Baby Diaries app committed to designing the experience for parents.
“The goal is to provide a friendly experience for parents while providing useful information on their baby’s growth.” Alix explains, “The unique offering from the parent’s perspective is; renowned expert tips; customised by machine learning to their child’s unique behaviours and quirks. This brings an expert into their home. It scales delivery of basic occupational therapy services”
The academic engagement is to be coordinated by Professor Mark Flynn of the Global Impact Cluster of the University of Wollongong, with infant feeding specialists from Universities of London, Coventry, and Aston involved.
“This platform is important because it facilitates ground-breaking research into long term health promotion / obesity prevention. I think that’s what the judges recognised with awarding my app plans. Existing research of infant self-feeding through baby led weaning has shown merit for obesity intervention and other long term health outcomes, but has been limited by the choking risk of anything solid enough for a child to handle.”
“I am over the moon” – Alix said on receiving the news and is pleased to receive Community and Industry support for the App concept and is keen to start development.
Particularly exciting as, although obesity rates continue to rise, obesity prevention historically has received little attention in mainstream forums.
“There’s such a huge team effort behind this, and they deserve recognition too.”