open discussion about the implications of personal dietary choices.
The other side of this argument
is that we should not be pushing a
specific set of values on a population because the values change periodically (for example, the recently
updated food pyramid) and they
may not resonate with the target
population’s culture, context, or
social status. Choosing a set of values also implies a need for “
corrective technologies” [ 2] whose goal it is
to change an individual’s actions to
conform to some gold standard.
But how many of us can really
conform to all of these guidelines?
Did you eat your five servings of
fruits and vegetables today (a reference to the National Health Services
and former U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention nutrition
campaigns)? Interestingly, the U.S.
has replaced its “ 5 a Day” campaign with “Fruits & Veggies—More
Matters,” which almost makes it
sound more flexible. How many
vegetables should I eat? More [ 3].
But if there is too much flexibility
in the value set chosen, then how
can we measure the outcomes of an
intervention and show that it does
improve health? Do small steps in
health improvement suffice (for
example, I went from eating zero
servings of vegetables to one serving a day)?
Overall, when it comes to what
type of intervention is needed and
with which value sets, it depends
on whom we are collaborating with
and the type of population we are
targeting. Currently, I am inclined
toward the latter argument, in
which we try not to impress a value
set on a population but instead
encourage users to improve their
health through incremental change
and personal reflection. For exam-
ple, asking people who are not physi-
cally active to walk 10,000 steps a
day seems unreasonable. However, if
we ask them to slowly increase their
step counts in certain increments,
they can figure out how to integrate
these small goals into their lives and
perhaps even reach the gold stan-
dard of 10,000 steps a day. This idea
respects people as individuals who
may deviate from the ideal stan-
dard, but would still like to improve
their health in some way.
September + October 2011
How Often Should the
Technology Be used?
As noted in Elizabeth Mynatt’s
previous contribution to this