Kidney Diet Tips

Renal Diet Apps: Which One Should I Use?

The number of people owning a smartphone continues to grow. With this growth there has been an increase in the development of health-related mobile applications (apps). More than 165,000 health-related and diet apps are available to download. Of these, one-third focuses on specific chronic diseases. It is often more convenient for individuals to reach out to their smartphones for answers rather than seeking one-to-one counseling.

Renal Nutrition Apps Study

A recent study1 published in the Journal of Renal Nutrition delved into the topic of apps focusing on renal nutrition. This study analyzed 21 apps tailored towards the renal diet. The purpose of the app, accuracy of information provided, and the technical and health literacy of these apps were evaluated. Information provided was considered accurate if the nutrient prescription and/or dietary recommendations were consistent with evidence-based guidelines for the dietary management for kidney disease.

Researchers found that the majority of these apps provided information on food nutrients and composition and served as an educational tool. However, while the technical quality and health literacy were considered acceptable, only half the apps contained information that was accurate and evidenced-based.

Some of the apps that were considered good quality and accurate include My Food Coach and H2O Overload from the National Kidney Foundation. DaVita dietitians created an education handout which includes these apps and others, including one named Record Weight for Dialysis Patients.

Online Tools for Kidney Diets

In addition to health and diet apps, there are online tools for meal planning, food tracking and nutrition analysis. One tool with all of these features plus a fluid tracker is the DaVita Diet Helper™ tool. You can create an account at no charge and log in using your smart phone or tablet. Unlike apps, you do need an internet connection to use DaVita Diet Helper and other online tools.

Missing Apps

Several popular kidney diet apps, including Kidney APPetite, KidneyDiet and Pocket Dietitian have been discontinued or do not work with newer operating systems. Many other mobile apps continue to be updated while newer applications are being developed.

To promote accuracy, renal dietitians are encouraged to partake in the development of these apps. Dietitians can also provide guidance on app use and utilize recorded diet information from these applications as part of their counseling.

Resources:

1. Lambert, K. et al. (2017). Should We Recommend Renal Diet-Related Apps to Our Patients? An Evaluation of the Quality and Health Literacy Demand of Renal Diet-Related Mobile Applications. Journal of Renal Nutrition, Volume 27 (6), p.430-438.

Disclaimer:  These app reviews are for informational purposes only, and do not constitute medical advice. Before using an app, consult with your healthcare provider and the manufacturer as to the app’s usefulness and accuracy. These reviews are not intended to endorse or confirm the effectiveness or accuracy of the apps in question.

Sherry Lam, MS, RD

Sherry Lam, MS, RD

Prior to joining DaVita in Los Angeles, Sherry Lam, MS, RD worked as a clinical and renal dietitian at the VA Medical Center in San Francisco. In her free time Sherry enjoys dancing (ballet, contemporary/modern), creating digital or graphic design work, and cooking and exploring different cuisines.