At the end of 2021 the FSHS released a new nutrition app. It’s already being used by thousands of students. Dietitian Reetta Kinnunen explains what the app is about.
“It’s a pity that often nutrition is only linked to weight control, even though there’s so much more to it”, says Reetta Kinnunen, the FSHS’s first own dietitian.
Besides her other tasks, Kinnunen spends her days working with the FSHS Nutrition app. It’s not a weight control app, so what is it exactly?
“The purpose is to proactively and comprehensively highlight the importance of nutrition for ability to study and everyday wellbeing”, she explains.
The app offers plenty of podcasts, articles and coaching programmes, not to mention food recipes suitable for vegetarians and those on a mixed diet.
“Instead of just giving ideas we’re helping students to reflect on their situation and identify their strengths.”
A service that’s always available
Reetta Kinnunen could list numerous benefits of the FSHS Nutrition app, but one is particularly important: the app offers timely support.
“Queues for healthcare appointments can be long, but you if need tools to support your lifestyle change, the app is there for you to download.”
Kinnunen also praises the app’s accessibility: the app is available to all 270,000 students using FSHS services nationwide. Digital healthcare services are here to stay.
“For some students, simply having the app is enough to promote wellbeing, while for others it’s a useful addition to healthcare appointments.”
Nutrition plays a major role in students’ ability to cope
Last year the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare published its KOTT 2021 survey (the Finnish Student Health and Well-being Survey), which sheds light on the eating habits of students in higher education. The results are somewhat worrying: only one in five students eat vegetables and root vegetables several times a day. Only about half of students eat breakfast and lunch on weekdays.
“Breakfast and lunch are the most important meals of the day. They boost concentration and alertness during the study day and give energy to do enjoyable, relaxing things in the evening”, Kinnunen says.
Nutrition can prevent health risks, help students to cope better and promote their ability to study.
“Functional abdominal complaints are common and can significantly disrupt daily life. A surprising number of students also have a difficult attitude to food, which in turn can be stressful. The app can help here too.”
Students also worry about their weight, which is why the app also offers weight control coaching.
“It’s not ‘lose five kilos in a month’ type of coaching. Instead it focuses on the student’s individual situation and on learning to make small changes.”
During their studies many students establish their own eating habits, which may differ a lot from those during childhood.
“Offering nutritional support in this new situation of life is very important.”
Well received by students
Thousands of students have already downloaded the app. Based on the feedback collected by the FSHS, many students like using it. This is how they describe the app:
“I like the gentle approach designed to encourage permanent lifestyle changes.”
“The app is a great tool for making me aware of my eating habits. I’ve also learnt plenty of tips from podcasts.”
“The lectures by dietitians were great and I learnt a lot from them.”
“I like the app’s tips and informative texts and can trust that they’re given by professionals.”
“I found the weight control exercises useful.”
“It’s nice to progress at my own pace.”
Reetta Kinnunen has noticed that different topics interest different students.
“Some students love the photo food diary, whereas others use it the least. All in all, the app has plenty to offer and should have something for everybody.”
Students in higher education would like the app to have even more content.
“Nevertheless, most are happy with the app, as it gives them more in-depth tools than the typical ‘eat less and exercise more’ approach”, Kinnunen says.