My problem is the rising population of people with obesity. The problem with the overall obesity of the population are the unhealthy implications of not being fit, these being very serious such as type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, cancers and strokes and others such as mental illness such as depression. The biggest growing concern is childhood obesity as the number of young people that are considered “obese” is high and is still rising for example there are “one in every five children aged 10 to 11” (NHS, 2016). This is where a fitness application becomes useful within the context of children and teenagers and their fitness levels which includes both their diet and factors involved with their exercise such as time and intensity.
Creating an application to solve this problem of obesity in young people is a good idea as the computational concepts and methods that can be used will be able to create a program that will give the user of the application a much greater idea about their weight and diet. As well as what can be done to improve their health and a much more accurate representation of themselves compared to using a non-computational approach.
The first way in which I will use computational approaches is by using the method of abstraction. Abstraction means that I will model a real world accurate representation of the data that I needed and remove the data that isn’t necessary to solving the problem. In my chosen problem this means that I would abstract unnecessary data about the user, this being for example their eye colour and hair colour. Whereas I would make sure that the essential details about themselves are saved such as height, mass, BMI, diet, how much weight they want to lose/have to if they want to be considered “healthy”.
My solution will implement an object oriented approach, as I will use modules and classes to improve efficiency as well as allow for effective unit testing and debugging. This will be achieved through decomposition.
I will mainly use decomposition to determine which features will need a database and records, for example the function for both finding out the data from a food product will require a database full of food records, and this will include their useful data such as carbohydrate and protein content. Another example is the function for exercise as different parts of the body will query different exercises within a database of which the user can decide to add/use within their plan or not.
Since this will be an OOP approach, I will utilise inheritance. This is where attributes and methods from a parent class are used within sub classes. This saves time and makes the program more manageable and efficient, I will use inheritance for parent classes such as male and female as they have very different attributes referring to their body and for example their BMI as well as exercises that are effective so this means I would use subclasses from this.
For my project I need to identify suitable stakeholders for the project and explain how my solution through computational means will be appropriate to them.
I feel like there will be a lot of stakeholders that have an interest in my fitness app. The reason for this is that health is a considerable factor with everyone within the human population as the most important thing to humans is their body and health. In my specific scenario of childhood obesity, the stakeholders that will take the most interest in my solution will therefore be both children and teenagers who this directly applies to. Another stakeholder would be the government, because as I stated before this is a national problem and an app such as this could help reduce the number of children and young people with obesity. Another stakeholder would be personal trainers and gyms as they could use the application to easily input data and monitor client’s intake of calories and exercise plan.
The reason for my initial proposition of it being an application is so that it can be implemented onto a phone as I feel that this is essential to appeal my stakeholders of young people as a result of the popularity of mobile apps and that most have better skills of operating a phone than a PC. It would also allow features such as motion sensors to be implemented into the program for functions such as measuring the number of steps a user makes when for example they are running. I also feel that because this app is for the benefit of the user that I would not want to charge them for wanting to better themselves and as a result would incorporate additional features at a cost to the user, so for the base application it would be free to have all the essential features.
As well as this when I need stakeholders to test the application I will choose other students that do courses such as P.E and biology and all those who participate in regular sporting activities and exercise such as the gym or football. I will also ask those who don’t exercise the recommended amount and see what their projected outcomes are.
Solutions to the problem
The first thing I have looked at in regards to the solution to the problem are the non-computational approaches such as health plans that aren’t in the format of a program or application, these would include solutions such as fitness plans and medical approaches such as doctor recommendations.
I looked at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/childhood-obesity-a-plan-for-action/childhood-obesity-a-plan-for-action, from this publication I found out valuable information from an approach used by the government to apply to this problem. What I found out is that there was a big emphasis upon sugar, especially within drinks which made me reassured with my initial ideas to have a diet plan with values of different foods stored within database as one of the more important functions of my program. However, my solution to the problem could never be as amenable as something such as a government plan as I don’t have the resources and influence upon the country, something such as an application is a very user oriented platform so it would be solely down to the user to use it. Furthermore, a computational approach was one of the actions put into place by the government with the use of digital based weight management support and a Change4Life sugar app, I believe that these uses of technology to computationally solve the problem would be very effective but there would be better approaches from when the plan was published as technology is continually changing and becoming more useful for daily life.
To specify it more so to purely computational approaches and fitness applications I then researched the most important functions of popular fitness apps. I found that most computational approaches involve less complex hardware such as Fitbit which utilises sensors more so than algorithms such as a fitness app. For example, fit bits and apple watches track sleep, heart rate and other exercises, they are very good at solving the problem I feel that they don’t put enough emphasis on calorie intake and diet which is more important than exercise as it’s %70 diet and %30 exercise. I also believe that a good approach that I came across from my research is a game in which you exercise, this would very much suit my target audience as it would keep those that don’t like exercising more interested and make it seem less tedious. Apps such as zombies, run! Which is one of the most popular fitness apps out there, another good example is Pokémon go which left many children burning calories without them even knowing, the function of hatching eggs by having to travel a particular distance is a great way of adding incentive and could be a very good feature in my application. Even more so apps such as Spotify have a very unique approach to fitness with them actually using psychological means to push the user even further, Spotify running measures the pace at which you are exercising/moving and plays a song with the same beats per minute to directly correlate with it, this is a very good approach and I would like to include a function such as this but I don’t have the rights to songs and resources as well as not knowing what music app the user uses. There are also apps that solely focus on diet and your calorie intake such as thrive market and mySugr, how these apps calculate this information will be very important to me when understanding what I need to do to and find out what is important to my algorithm.