Free iPad app offers personalized advice for healthy living

August 2, 2012 By Jim Goodwin, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
Zuum, a free iPad app, estimates disease risk and offers users a customized plan for living healthier lives.

Health-care professionals have developed a free iPad app that estimates a user’s disease risk and offers a customized plan for living healthier lives.

“We wanted to get the word out about easy changes in behavior that might help people prevent certain diseases,” says Graham Colditz, MD, PhD, an internationally recognized disease prevention expert at the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Called Zuum, the app quickly estimates a person’s risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and different cancers, including lung, colon, breast and prostate. Zuum then provides tailor-made tips to prevent these illnesses and boost overall health. For example, the app shows users how diet, TV viewing habits and other factors could affect future health.

Zuum is available on iTunes at itunes.apple.com/us/app/id521273376 .

“We’ve taken three decades of research and turned it into Zuum, a free app that provides personalized health advice at your fingertips,” Colditz says.

Zuum’s features include:

  • A quick, easy health questionnaire.
  • Risk estimates for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, lung cancer, colon cancer, breast cancer (for women) and prostate cancer (for men).
  • A list of specific factors that increase or decrease the risk of each disease and how healthy lifestyle changes could affect future risk.
  • Personalized tips for lowering disease risk and boosting health.
  • Tailored messages delivered regularly to the app’s inbox, which encourage ongoing healthy behavior change.
Developed by the team that created the award-winning Your Disease Risk website, Zuum packages the latest science into an engaging, easy-to-use health app. It builds on Colditz’s work in the Nurses Health Study and Growing Up Today Study, groundbreaking research started in 1976 and 1996, respectively, that continues to examine the links among cancer, alcohol use, diet, exercise and other factors. Using results from these and numerous other studies, Zuum offers science-based tips on reducing .

Other key developers include Hank Dart, a public health communications consultant for Siteman, and Heather Corcoran, associate professor of communication design at the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University.

Dart says user security and promoting a healthy lifestyle were equally important when it came to the app’s design.

“The privacy and confidentiality of Zuum users is key,” he says. “Data are stored on secure servers and sent through an encrypted link, and unlike many other risk assessment tools, we never sell or share user information. Our only goal is to provide important tips that can help people live the healthiest life possible.”

Colditz stresses that Zuum is not intended to replace a physician’s advice or regular medical checkups. Zuum can’t predict if an individual will develop a particular disease, and it doesn’t guarantee good health. But the personalized advice it offers may help reduce risk and provide a blueprint for a better quality of life.

“We want to make it easy for people to be -conscious,” Colditz says. “With Zuum, anyone can make healthier choices.”

For more information about Zuum, visit zuum.wustl.edu , or follow the app’s Twitter account at twitter.com/Zuum_Health .

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