A smart way to help you live a healthier life

A smart way to help you
live a healthier life

The prevalence of overweight and obesity is relentlessly increasing

The prevalence of overweight and obesity has been steadily increasing over the past decades, also in children of all ages. This not only affects the individual person and his or her immediate surroundings, but also has consequences for the health sector. An increasing amount of people are admitted to the hospital as a result of obesity-related indications such as diabetes, heart disease, joint problems, but also mental illnesses (or disorders). Moreover, overweight and obese adults and children are often stigmatized, face discrimination, are offered a lower wage for jobs and are more likely to have low self-esteem [Han et al. 2011 – Economics & Human Biology]. This underlines the immense urgency to now really make a difference in this situation.

One of the biggest contributors to developing overweight is an unhealthy eating behavior.
This is why we focus on creating a solution that will help people to improve their eating behavior permanently.

 

This project team is fully committed and driven to make a lasting, future-proof solution to this situation. We want to make sure that our children and future generations have the awareness, the knowledge, and the tools to realize and maintain a healthy behavior.  Therefore, we have started this project entitled ‘Combating Childhood Obesity (CCO)’, with the goal to develop, validate, and translate to the market an integrated approach to change your eating behaviour for the better

The prevalence of overweight and obesity is relentlessly increasing

The prevalence of overweight and obesity has been steadily increasing over the past decades, also in children of all ages. This not only affects the individual person and his or her immediate surroundings, but also has consequences for the health sector. An increasing amount of people are admitted to the hospital as a result of obesity-related indications such as diabetes, heart disease, joint problems, but also mental illnesses (or disorders). Moreover, overweight and obese adults and children are often stigmatized, face discrimination, are offered a lower wage for jobs and are more likely to have low self-esteem [Han et al. 2011 – Economics & Human Biology]. This underlines the immense urgency to now really make a difference in this situation.

One of the biggest contributors to developing overweight is an unhealthy eating behavior.
This is why we focus on creating a solution that will help people to improve their eating behavior permanently.

 

This project team is fully committed and driven to make a lasting, future-proof solution to this situation. We want to make sure that our children and future generations have the awareness, the knowledge, and the tools to realize and maintain a healthy behavior.  Therefore, we have started this project entitled ‘Combating Childhood Obesity (CCO)’, with the goal to develop, validate, and translate to the market an integrated approach to change your eating behaviour for the better

Vision and mission

It is our vision that people of all ages can learn and maintain a healthy behavior and live a healthy life.

It is our mission to develop game-changer technology based on a smart, innovative, societally integrated, proven CBT approach embedded within an appealing, easy-to-use platform, which is widely available to all. In this way a long-lasting, future-proof solution will be delivered that will significantly contribute to the realization of our vision.

Vision and mission

It is our vision that people of all ages can learn and maintain a healthy behavior and live a healthy life.

It is our mission to develop game-changer technology based on a smart, innovative, societally integrated, proven CBT approach embedded within an appealing, easy-to-use platform, which is widely available to all. In this way a long-lasting, future-proof solution will be delivered that will significantly contribute to the realization of our vision.

Why current methods are insufficient and why we believe our solution works

There are many different attempts out there that are aimed at combating the prevalence of overweight and obesity, either preventative or treatment. These can be apps, diets, municipality initiatives, school initiatives, and business to business services, but apparently none of these are successful in contributing significantly to overweight and obesity prevalence reduction, particularly in children and adolescents.

Why?

Because it all revolves around behavior and it is hard to change your behavior, specifically eating behavior. Unhealthy eating behavior is one of the biggest contributors to developing overweight and obesity. In order to have effective behavior change towards healthy eating, one needs to first solve the mysteries of their current behavior through regularly tracking what you eat, when, how much, what triggers unhealthy eating, and what emotional and social state influences that. The available means that are mentioned above all have their drawbacks. Above all, it is very tedious to track your eating patterns accurately and continuously. There is no immediate reward and it is no fun. The long-term goals are simply too far out and too nebulous and hazy to be of value as an incentive in the here-and-now. Lastly, every initiative or app out there has a too limited reach or too low number of users to make a true impact in this field and products and companies generally have a short lifetime.

We believe that most people really want to improve their eating behavior, and even if they are making good progress on changing their behavior, there are other important factors influencing its success. The main one is that a lot of people simply do not know what healthy eating is or how to realize it. Food literacy is low. Healthy eating is complex, considered to be time consuming, more expensive (or at least believed to be more expensive), and people are influenced by the marketing at the places they buy their food or ingredients.

We aim to realize this by developing a smart, innovative, societally integrated, proven approach based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) embedded within an appealing, easy-to-use, technology platform, and by making it widely available to all.

Our solutions make use of the advent of artificial intelligence and the connected world. We have developed a game-changing digital technology platform and surrounding product. Our product is capable of understanding and predicting each individual’s eating behavior by learning from the individual and all other users.  Furthermore, it can perform a personalized intervention at most vulnerable moments.

It is based on the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and it has recently been proved to be an effective way for adults to change their eating behavior and lose weight. Making it timely to extend it to more youthful users and to introduce this to the market now.

Why current methods are insufficient and why we believe our solution works

There are many different attempts out there that are aimed at combating the prevalence of overweight and obesity, either preventative or treatment. These can be apps, diets, municipality initiatives, school initiatives, and business to business services, but apparently none of these are successful in contributing significantly to overweight and obesity prevalence reduction, particularly in children and adolescents.

Why?

Because it all revolves around behavior and it is hard to change your behavior, specifically eating behavior. Unhealthy eating behavior is one of the biggest contributors to developing overweight and obesity. In order to have effective behavior change towards healthy eating, one needs to first solve the mysteries of their current behavior through regularly tracking what you eat, when, how much, what triggers unhealthy eating, and what emotional and social state influences that. The available means that are mentioned above all have their drawbacks. Above all, it is very tedious to track your eating patterns accurately and continuously. There is no immediate reward and it is no fun. The long-term goals are simply too far out and too nebulous and hazy to be of value as an incentive in the here-and-now. Lastly, every initiative or app out there has a too limited reach or too low number of users to make a true impact in this field and products and companies generally have a short lifetime.

We believe that most people really want to improve their eating behavior, and even if they are making good progress on changing their behavior, there are other important factors influencing its success. The main one is that a lot of people simply do not know what healthy eating is or how to realize it. Food literacy is low. Healthy eating is complex, considered to be time consuming, more expensive (or at least believed to be more expensive), and people are influenced by the marketing at the places they buy their food or ingredients.

We aim to realize this by developing a smart, innovative, societally integrated, proven approach based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) embedded within an appealing, easy-to-use, technology platform, and by making it widely available to all.

Our solutions make use of the advent of artificial intelligence and the connected world. We have developed a game-changing digital technology platform and surrounding product. Our product is capable of understanding and predicting each individual’s eating behavior by learning from the individual and all other users.  Furthermore, it can perform a personalized intervention at most vulnerable moments.

It is based on the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and it has recently been proved to be an effective way for adults to change their eating behavior and lose weight. Making it timely to extend it to more youthful users and to introduce this to the market now.

Our envisioned impact

Our short-term impact will come from offering a proven functional app based on the CBT approach, making it available to all consumers (families/parents and their children) – whether they are overweight or not – and help them to realize a healthy eating behavior. This will not only help overweight people lose weight and be rewarded for it, but it will also improve and reward the eating behavior of normal weight persons, which prevents them and their children from becoming overweight. Everyone will have the opportunity to learn about and practice a healthy eating behavior and be rewarded for it.

The longer-term impact we want to achieve is to internationalize, create an international support team of coaches, psychologists, dieticians, and athletes. Next to that we will aim to include exercise, sleep, screen-time behavior elements amongst others. Moreover, we aim to extend to the clinical field by offering our product through healthcare providers and insurers to support patients during the out-patient phase after having been through clinical care as a direct consequence of their obesity. This will fulfil the expressed need of care providers to be able to offer to their patients engaging and effective tools to monitor them if needed, but mainly to help improve their eating behavior and prevent their potential readmission.

Our envisioned impact

Our short-term impact will come from offering a proven functional app based on the CBT approach, making it available to all consumers (families/parents and their children) – whether they are overweight or not – and help them to realize a healthy eating behavior. This will not only help overweight people lose weight and be rewarded for it, but it will also improve and reward the eating behavior of normal weight persons, which prevents them and their children from becoming overweight. Everyone will have the opportunity to learn about and practice a healthy eating behavior and be rewarded for it.

The longer-term impact we want to achieve is to internationalize, create an international support team of coaches, psychologists, dieticians, and athletes. Next to that we will aim to include exercise, sleep, screen-time behavior elements amongst others. Moreover, we aim to extend to the clinical field by offering our product through healthcare providers and insurers to support patients during the out-patient phase after having been through clinical care as a direct consequence of their obesity. This will fulfil the expressed need of care providers to be able to offer to their patients engaging and effective tools to monitor them if needed, but mainly to help improve their eating behavior and prevent their potential readmission.

A sketch of the preliminary product

Our technology platform will first be presented in a gamified app form for adolescents named Coco, which allows monitoring one’s current eating behavior and can intervene and provide help and insight in a personalized manner to improve one’s eating behavior. It is artificially intelligent and connected so that it will continuously learn from the individual user as well as from all other users around the world to continuously improve the personalized feedback. It is designed to be fun and rewarding. It has a strong, psychologically and academically proven foundation making use of the elements of cognitive behavioral therapy and a network approach based on ecological momentary assessment. We argue that childhood obesity is caused and maintained by a network of (causally) related variables, and – importantly – these networks likely vary across children (see image below). Therefore, in the Coco app, personalized interventions will be triggered by characteristics of an individual’s network.

The preliminary algorithm and app now collect input on what you eat, when, how much, what triggers unhealthy eating, and what emotional and social state influences that.

Below you can find some screenshots of the different elements of the app, which we will use during an upcoming large-scale user trial in multiple European countries. The results from this study will allow us to further develop and improve the complete package.

Contact us

    Partners

    Funded by

    Maastricht University (NL)

    Maastricht University has developed over the years high-standing expertise on obesity and CBT, moreover also experts in Data Science are in our team, excellently complementing each other in this project. Here lies the foundation of our technology, which was originally developed only for adults and has proven to be an effective tool and program to reduce weight and waist circumference among others.

    Anne Roefs: professor of Psychology and Neuroscience of Abnormal Eating at the Faculty of Psychology & Neuroscience.
    Sieske Franssen: PhD student Psychology and Neuroscience of Abnormal Eating at the Faculty of Psychology & Neuroscience.
    Jerry Spanakis: assistant professor Data Science and Knowledge Engineering.
    Kirill Tumanov: PhD student Data Science and Knowledge Engineering.

    Levvel – Garage 2020 (NL)
    Experts in child psychology and providers of the platform of innovations in youth care that maximize client involvement, participation and autonomy through design thinking and technology.

    Eva Becking: project leader with expertise on eHealth solutions and biopsychology.
    Gabriela Aguirrezabal: Concept development design and innovation.
    Laurens de Knijff: Innovative digital projects and digital transformation based on big data analytics.
    Levi van Dam: program lead Garage2020 and post-doc at the University of Amsterdam
    Zilveren Kruis Achmea (NL)
    Cooperative insurance company and the largest healthcare insurer in Europe. Business model specialists from paying for healthcare to arranging healthcare towards improving health and vitality.
    Degetel (FR)
    Experts on digital transformation using the advantages of innovation, R&D and multi-disciplinary experience in IT & Digital. Degetel is the developer of the mobile application and the platform for data storage and analytics. 

    Hassen Hbaieb: Experienced programmer and manager of innovation activities in Telecom, multimedia, and E-health. 
    Thomas Albertini: Project manager officer and Experienced app programmer

    Ghent University (BE)
    Research in the field of Clinical Developmental Psychology. Expertise on disorders of children and adolescents from a developmental point of view, the so-called developmental psychopathology approach. We focus on individual differences and cognitive vulnerability factors in childhood, in attachment related problems and in eating disorders and obesity.

    Caroline Braet: Professor of Clinical Development Psychology with large clinical expertise on the guidance and treatment of children with weight problems.
    Maurane Desmet: PhD student Clinical Development Psychology.

    Clermont Auvergne University (FR)

    Clinical partner with expertise in treating children using a personalized approach to exercise and food consumption.
    David Thivel: Academic teacher/researcher in the research group Metabolic Adaptations to Exercise under Physio-pathological
    conditions.

    EIT Digital and EIT Health

    EIT Digital and EIT Health are the KICs from the European Institute of Innovation and Technology involved in this project and offer the basis for business development from the business perspective as well as the daily practice perspective.

    Lars Mulder: Biomedical Engineer with business strategy and entrepreneurial expertise.
    Sandra Gustek: Psychologist, coach and dietician.

    Maastricht University (NL)

    Maastricht University has developed over the years high-standing expertise on obesity and CBT, moreover also experts in Data Science are in our team, excellently complementing each other in this project. Here lies the foundation of our technology, which was originally developed only for adults and has proven to be an effective tool and program to reduce weight and waist circumference among others.

    Anne Roefs: professor of Psychology and Neuroscience of Abnormal Eating at the Faculty of Psychology & Neuroscience.
    Sieske Franssen: PhD student Psychology and Neuroscience of Abnormal Eating at the Faculty of Psychology & Neuroscience.
    Jerry Spanakis: assistant professor Data Science and Knowledge Engineering.
    Kirill Tumanov: PhD student Data Science and Knowledge Engineering.

    Levvel – Garage 2020 (NL)
    Experts in child psychology and providers of the platform of innovations in youth care that maximize client involvement, participation and autonomy through design thinking and technology.

    Eva Becking: project leader with expertise on eHealth solutions and biopsychology.
    Gabriela Aguirrezabal: Concept development design and innovation.
    Laurens de Knijff: Innovative digital projects and digital transformation based on big data analytics.
    Zilveren Kruis Achmea (NL)
    Cooperative insurance company and the largest healthcare insurer in Europe. Business model specialists from paying for healthcare to arranging healthcare towards improving health and vitality.
    Degetel (FR)
    Experts on digital transformation using the advantages of innovation, R&D and multi-disciplinary experience in IT & Digital. Degetel is the developer of the mobile application and the platform for data storage and analytics. 

    Hassen Hbaieb: Experienced programmer and manager of innovation activities in Telecom, multimedia, and E-health. 
    Thomas Albertini: Project manager officer and Experienced app programmer

    Ghent University (BE)
    Research in the field of Clinical Developmental Psychology. Expertise on disorders of children and adolescents from a developmental point of view, the so-called developmental psychopathology approach. We focus on individual differences and cognitive vulnerability factors in childhood, in attachment related problems and in eating disorders and obesity.

    Caroline Braet: Professor of Clinical Development Psychology with large clinical expertise on the guidance and treatment of children with weight problems.
    Maurane Desmet: PhD student Clinical Development Psychology.

    Clermont Auvergne University (FR)

    Clinical partner with expertise in treating children using a personalized approach to exercise and food consumption.
    David Thivel: Academic teacher/researcher in the research group Metabolic Adaptations to Exercise under Physio-pathological
    conditions.

    EIT Digital and EIT Health

    EIT Digital and EIT Health are the KICs from the European Institute of Innovation and Technology involved in this project and offer the basis for business development from the business perspective as well as the daily practice perspective.

    Lars Mulder: Biomedical Engineer with business strategy and entrepreneurial expertise.
    Sandra Gustek: Psychologist, coach and dietician.