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An App for healthy eating

In Germany, there’s “Currywurst”

Software-Entwickler mit Appetit auf Gesundes: Johannes Ziegltrum schreibt an der TUM seine Masterarbeit. (Foto: Maren Willkomm)
Software-Entwickler mit Appetit auf Gesundes: Johannes Ziegltrum schreibt an der TUM seine Masterarbeit. (Foto: Maren Willkomm)

Johannes Ziegltrum is currently working on his Master’s thesis at TUM, for which the student of Computer Science developed an App that is supposed to inform teenagers and young adults about healthy eating and exercise in a playful way. In an interview for TUMstudinews, he has talks about how the App is structured and how it is integrated in the food cluster “enable”.

TUMstudinews: How come you chose this topic for your Master’s thesis?

Johannes Ziegltrum: I developed a few other Apps already, but not yet in the area of ??nutrition. I’m interested in the subject area, so I decided to focus on this specific topic.

The Apps you developed earlier, what were they about?

One of the Apps allows you to book accommodations, and another was designed for fitness studios. It was supposed to help you use the equipment properly and to develop training plans.

How is your current App structured?

It starts off with a map of Europe, currently representing 15 countries and the typical food. In Italy, for example, there’s pizza – and in Germany, there’s “Currywurst”.

Not exactly very healthy types of food...

Exactly! The idea is to teach the young people about energy-rich food, about dishes with a lot of calories. For every country, there are three mini games, and you can earn a star by playing each one of them.

What kind of games are there?

The whole thing is mainly about knowledge. For example, one of the tasks is to fill a backpack with food that corresponds to the estimated calorie consumption of swimming two kilometers. Another game is like a quiz focusing on how much sugar the food contains.

Your work is part of the food cluster “enable”. How come?

When the cluster – which is sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF) – started in the summer of 2015, there were many possible interdisciplinary topics for theses. I started working on October 1, 2016. First, my App was supposed to be an independent game. Now, it is part of a platform. At the moment, there are eight students who are writing their theses in the scope of the project. The development of the platform, which is based on several mini-games, is only one of the various projects within the food cluster.

When is the platform supposed to be finished?

Probably in the first half of 2017. Currently, a survey is being carried out – as a basis to customize the platform to the needs and wishes of teenagers and young adults. The password for participation is “enable”.

Are you personally interested in the topics of a healthy diet and exercise?

I’ve been playing football for ages, and I’ve always tried not to eat unhealthy. I’ve always been interested in the topic.

Do you think the App is effective enough to encourage young people to eat healthier?

That’s a good question. There are countless Apps that focus on nutrition, but hardly any of them address the topic in a playful manner. Thus, the App was designed as a game in order to make young people aware of the general issue. I am very curious what will come of it in the end.

What about your professional career after your Master’s thesis? Are you planning to continue with developing Apps?

I have been working for an Allianz agency as a software engineer for a year and a half already – and I’ll be able to get a permanent position at the company. Recently, I was informed that they are developing an App as well, so I’ll surely have to do with the subject in the future.

(Interview: Verena Pongratz)

Johannes Ziegltrum (28) grew up near Freising. The topic of his Master’s thesis is “Development of a Serious Game to support a healthy diet“. The “enable” cluster is an interdisciplinary collaboration between the Institute of Nutritional Medicine, the Chair for Applied Informatics / Cooperative Systems, and the Chair for Information Technology in Medicine and Augmented Reality.

More information:
Survey App for healthy eating (The password for participation is “enable”)
www.enable-cluster.de