Local Dietician and Director at Chow Nutritional Solutions, Stefan van der Merwe, has developed an app which incentivise people to make healthier choices when eating out.

The Chow app lists healthy meals in specific restaurants, lets users see on a map where they are and then rewards them for making healthy choices.

The app uses GPS tracking and gives users full nutritional information on the healthy meals.

“In today’s fast-paced world, people want convenience and eating out is here to stay. Through Chow, we aim to take the guesswork out of choosing a healthy meal and aim to make eating out a possibility that can fit within everyday healthy habits,” Van der Merwe told ITWeb.

According to Van der Merwe, the most recent national population health survey showed that almost half of adult South Africans reported they eat outside of the home, with almost a third doing so on a weekly basis.

The survey also showed increasing intakes of fat, sugar and salt, accompanied by a decline in fruit, vegetables and fibre-rich foods have played a part in the rising obesity, diabetes and hypertension rates in the country.

The programme accredits healthy meals in restaurants, based on a range of guidelines and criteria developed and administered by a team of registered dietitians.

When users order a Chow-accredited meal they earn Chow bucks which they can trade in for discounts and vouchers from participating partners.

Once a meal has been accredited, it is allowed to showcase the Chow mark, an official endorsement approved by the National Department of Health. These meals have to include beneficial food groups such as vegetables, wholegrain carbohydrates, healthy fats, lean or plant protein or dairy.

The meals are also limited to a certain number of kilojoules, saturated fat and sugar.

To achieve this, a Chow dietitian is appointed to each restaurant in the programme to support with meal analysis and accreditation, menu development and auditing, as well as general nutrition and health support.

Chow meals are available in over 300 restaurants nationwide including Spur and Café Frank.

The Chow app is available for download via the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

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