Student - October 4, 2007

Wageningen to start online nutrition coaching

Wageningen UR is going to set up an internet health coach together with health insurance company UVIT. The coach will offer people tailor-made health advice. Nutrition chair Professor Frans Kok and Edwin Velzel, chairman of the board of the insurance company, announced this on Wednesday evening, 3 October.

Kok said that the two parties have agreed to work together to build the digital coach during the coming five years. The aim is that the site not only contains scientific information on healthy eating, but also discussion forums and the possibility for personal guidance when following a weight-loss plan.

UVIT is the second largest health insurer in the Netherlands. Wageningen UR and UVIT are also holding discussions with Philips about equipment for self-testing. The Dutch College of General Practitioners (NHG) is taking part in the planning too, Kok said. Kok: ‘It must be an authoritative undertaking. At the moment it’s a jungle of self-tests and health advisors on the internet. There’s a lot of rubbish. We want to be able to offer advice based on the latest insights. And the advice that the coach provides must coincide with advice given by physicians.’

Kok expects that the health coach will also provide new data for research, and hopefully lead to funding for research on knowledge gaps when it comes to healthy food. ‘We think that people will find it easier to lose weight if they get personal advice, and that they will be able to fall back on the coach when they hit a difficult patch.’

Site visitors will fill in many details about their lifestyle, and these will be passed on to their health insurance company. ‘One of things we are still considering is the way in which the data will be used,’ says Kok. ‘We don’t want people to be put off because they are afraid that the insurance company will use the data to increase their premiums.’

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