Brain researchers from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a fun, colourful and interactive eHealth platform called SidekickHealth that motivates overweight and obese adults to become healthier.

Designed especially to promote health and tackle chronic diseases, the platform uses artificial intelligence (AI) and evidence-based guidelines to encourage users to make healthier choices that reduce risk factors.

SidekickHealth focuses on three key behavioural areas; the first being nutrition, where it allows the user to set food goals and is rewarded for fruit, vegetable and water consumption. The second is physical activity, where the user is motivated to carry out a variety of exercises, workouts and other activities. The third is stress management, where the user can relax with a variety of breathing exercises and guided meditation.

According to the developers, SidekickHealth targets emotional systems in the brain which is where most lifestyle decisions are made.

“We believe in the power of gamification and behavioural economics when it comes to engaging and motivating patients to improve their health and increase attendance. We use smartphone technology with a data-driven approach to engage people in lifestyle change programmes to increase their motivation and get better results,” said SidekickHealth Co-founder and Chief Medical Officer, Dr Saemundur “Sam” Oddsson, in an interview with Medscape Medical News.

While not available to the general public, SidekickHealth is fully scalable and can been tailored to accommodate the needs of different healthcare organisations; health management programmes like diabetes prevention or management; as well as corporate health and wellness programmes.

The platform has undergone a number of studies where it has been proven to improve patient outcomes.  According to the organisation, SidekickHealth users are up to 3x more likely to reach their 5% weight-loss goals and have up to 30% less dropout rates than control groups that do not use the platform.

The platform is currently available in English, Spanish and Swedish, with plans for a Chinese version in the near future.

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