A SMARTPHONE app has been designed to help Irish teenagers to improve their fitness and lifestyle choices.
The app is the first of its kind in the world and has been developed here in a bid to counter the rise of obesity in Irish teenagers.
A pilot study is under way in Temple Street Hospital to test the lifestyle app, and 15 secondary school students are already using it.
By the time the pilot study is finished in September 2014, some 126 teens will have used it.
Those taking part in the project have been given a phone with the behaviour changing app and their results will be compared to those attending the W82GO childhood obesity programme at the hospital.
"It is looking at four key areas, including improving nutrition; reaching recommended limits of 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous activity, improving sleep and boosting self-esteem and confidence," said Grace O'Malley (inset), a chartered physiotherapist on the obesity team in Temple Street.
She devised the app with Dr Amanda Burls, from the Department of Primary Care Unit in the University of Oxford, and the teens are encouraged to work towards daily goals.
"There is a peer support component so they can message people in the trial," said Grace. She said that "teenagers really respond to it."
"They use technology daily as part of their every day life, so as one teenager said, why wouldn't you communicate through the phone?"
Eventually, the desire is to be able to provide it to healthcare professionals who can prescribe it.