The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and the Swiss-based Fondation Botnar are pleased to announce the launch of the innovative Food Investigator Game project, designed to help youth of East Java, Indonesia, to improve their eating habits. How? By harnessing the power of young people and technology in order to inspire them to make wiser choices about the quality of the foods and snacks they consume.
The venture, which is based on the winning idea put forth by the Jember students’ group Pelajar Peduli Gizi (PPG) at the 2019 Saya Pemberani Young Nutri-leader Pitch competition, will rely on a smart phone app that will enable youth to better interpret food labels and thereby ensure that they make healthier choices.
Like young people the world over, Indonesia’s estimated 65 million strong population of adolescents and youth struggle daily between the temptation to purchase cheap unhealthy snack foods or higher nutritional products that will protect their health as opposed to undermining it.
Why is this so important?
Research undertaken by GAIN in 2019 found that urban adolescent girls were unaware about the potential harmful consequences of consuming unhealthy snack foods multiple times a day. Indonesia’s 2015 Global School Health Survey (GSHS) reported that 89% of 13 to 17-year-old students buy food or drinks from nearby roadside stalls, and consume at least one packaged sweet drink daily. Indeed, the prevalence of overweight and obesity in 2018 had increased 11 percentage points from 2013, unless trends of excessive snacking and meal skipping are addressed, there will likely be a further rise in overweight and obesity among adolescents.
To forestall this, GAIN and Fondation Botnar will support the development of a Food Investigator Game with the input of developers and with the participation of the adolescents themselves. In addition to providing point-of-purchase information about snack foods, the app will geotag and rank retailers by the types of snacks they carry. The aim is to motivate vendors to carry more healthier alternatives while, at the same time, prompting government stakeholders and local decision makers to better enforce existing food legislation and ultimately encourage producers to comply with appropriate labelling.
Information is empowerment, and we and Fondation Botnar are pleased to be part of this exciting adolescent-led initiative.
In early 2020, Fondation Botnar launched a bid to leverage data and frontier technologies for the health and wellbeing of young people in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). GAIN and the PPG youth group together with other partners, submitted the Food Investigator Game to the "Fit for the future call". The Fondation Botnar awarded a grant to implement and pilot the three-years project within Jember Regency and the Greater Jakarta area.
Enabling young people to make a better decision on the food they consume means enabling them to have a better future.
"We’re effectively putting nutritional information directly into the hands of young people at the very moment when they decide what to purchase," says GAIN Director of Programme Services Saul Morris. "Information is empowerment, and we and Fondation Botnar are pleased to be part of this exciting adolescent-led initiative."
Acting Country Director GAIN Indonesia, Agnes Mallipu, says "Enabling young people to make a better decision on the food they consume means enabling them to have a better future."