Webwatch: New app to support healthier lifestyles for people with Down’s syndrome

A new app designed to help people with Down’s syndrome make healthier eating and exercise choices, has been downloaded more than 500 times in its first three weeks.

The Down’s Syndrome Association’s (DSA) ‘Health Swap’ app aims to tackle the statistic that more than 70% of people with the genetic condition are overweight or obese, and it seems to be making a positive impact so far.

Being healthy and active is important for everyone, but it is especially important for people with Down’s syndrome, who can be more susceptible to weight-related conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Alex Rawle, Project Manager for the DSA’s DSActive programme said:“Less than 20% of people with Down’s syndrome hit the Government’s physical activity recommendations which is worrying. The Health Swap app is specifically designed to support people with Down’s syndrome and their parents and carers to make positive changes to their lifestyle through healthier eating and activity tracking, and also helps increase their digital skills. It empowers people with learning disabilities to make their own choices and take control of their health.”

Kelly Wright, 30, downloaded the app straight away and sent a hand-written letter to the DSA saying: “I have been using the Health Swap app for few days now and it is fantastic. I love choosing the meals and ticking things off the shopping list. I also like tracking all my sports. I think this is going to help me continue to make good eating choices.”

Kelly’s mum Nicola said: “I put the app on Kelly’s phone which is glued to her hand, usually on YouTube, checking out the soaps! She thinks it’s great. It’s easy for her to navigate and use and she loves ticking off the ingredients on the shopping list. She does a fair bit of exercise a week and to be able to tick it off and get badges/points for it is fantastic as she’s a very visual learner. If you are of an OCD nature as Kelly is, this is excellent for its repetition and is encouraging her to go that extra mile with food and exercise as she wants to see her numbers going up on the app.”

The Health Swap app project has been funded by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, through their Digital Inclusion Fund. In a world rapidly moving towards digitalisation, using mobile devices can be a problem for some people with learning disabilities. Health Swap is specifically designed with this in mind, and has been tested at all stages in its development by people with Down’s syndrome.

The app is available on Apple and Android smartphones and tablets. It can be downloaded here.

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