A2005 Validation Study | Technology Validation | Sodexo

2020-12-16 End-of-year Update

This activity is designing and delivering a two-year study, each year-long arm of which is independent, because funding for year 2 is not guaranteed. The first year has been dedicated to developing a recommender and integrating this with the PERSFO app. The second year – if funded – will include a proof-of-principle intervention study within a workplace setting.

During 2020, despite the pandemic, this task has started preparations for the field study, including defining the scope and protocol. The aim is to run a workplace study at canteen(s) where Sodexo provides workplace catering; Sodexo operates across Belgium providing menus for a diverse consumer base. In drafting the protocol, PERSFO has had to considered how the study will run in practice, especially now things are a little different at work, calculated the number of participants necessary to ensure valid results and the duration of intervention as well as pinpointing measurable outcomes (e.g., compliance with recommendations, users achieving personal goals).

These activities have been achieved in close collaboration with the 360° stakeholder analysis and development of the PERSFO app, which worked with consumer focus groups – under strict public health controls – to ensure an appropriate and usable design for both the app and the study. The study will test whether the PERSFO app, providing personalised dietary recommendations based on users’ goals and linked directly to information from catering outlets, can help consumers achieve a healthier diet. There is evidence to suggest that personalised dietary advice is more readily followed than generic healthy eating advice. Thus, personalised recommendations implemented with existing catering options might remove some of the barriers associated with eating healthily with the workplace.

Linking what we should eat with what is available, and facilitating traceability from source to plate, is a simple and novel approach, but could be extended to a variety of settings including schools and hospitals, for example. However, due to the pandemic, employees across Europe have been asked to work from home wherever possible. This has made it complicated to find an organisation willing to support testing of PERSFO, difficult but not impossible and Sodexo has secured the cooperation of a client where the study will be performed with 40 employees over four weeks during 2021.

Below are some examples from the PERSFO app tested during development

A2005 Validation Study |                                            Technology Validation | Sodexo

PERSFO was designed to be a two-year study, with the first year dedicated to developing the platform and undertaking small scale user testing.

In addition, currently, the consortium is planning the 2021 proof-of-principle intervention study within workplace settings. Sodexo and Alberts will provide the infrastructures essential to perform the real-life intervention study consumers using canteens and vending machines at Belgium-based companies (that, as many Belgium workplaces, offers a diverse consumer base, often seen as EU ‘Blueprint’). Volunteers will use PERSFO for several weeks and provide feedback on their experience. The aim is two-fold, to test whether the interfaces work and if PERSFO-generated personalised dietary advice can help individuals achieve their healthy eating goals at work more readily than without such support.

Food choices as well as interactions with PERFSO will be reviewed in parallel with in-depth interviews to assess qualitative and quantitative measures of ‘success’, i.e. feasibility and efficacy of stimulating behaviour change around food choice using personalised and motivational advice. Users’ attitudes and choices will be tracked to determine their impact on acceptance of PERSFO advice and any subsequent behaviour changes. This will also help to identify the most effective engagement methods.

Personalized and connected food service providers (PERSFO, Project ID 20291) has received funding from EIT Food, the innovation community on Food of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the EU, under Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.