The Food Hospital Fibre Challenge app has had over 60,000 downloads to date following the return of the new series of The Food Hospital on Channel 4 last month. The application available on iPhone and Android devices has got the nation reaching for the fruit bowl and monitoring their toilet habits on a daily basis.
The Fibre Challenge application encourages viewers to record their bowel movements and increase the amount of fibre in their diet for 21 days. Participants are challenged to eat an extra five grams of dietary fibre every day in the first stage, and an extra ten grams per day in the second stage. Each day, they should record how many bowel movements they have had and the stool type using the Bristol Stool Form Scale. At the end of the challenge, participants hope to see a noticeable improvement in bowel health. The anonymous data will be added to the national results, with the overall findings published on The Food Hospital website.
The Food Hospital Fibre Challenge app has been devised by specialist dietitians and is a mass participation initiative to assess the effect of fibre on the nation's bowel health. Most people don't eat enough fibre. The recommended minimum daily intake of dietary fibre is 18 grams, but few get anywhere near that. Increasing the amount of fibre in your diet is believed to provide short-term health benefits and help prevent serious disease.
Alongside the app and as part of the new series, each week volunteers who have previously participated in The Fibre Challenge will have their results analysed to help viewers gain a better understanding to whether a high fibre diet significantly improves short-term bowel health. Fifty volunteers took part in The Fibre Challenge earlier this summer and for 21 days, they ate extra dietary fibre and sent information about their bowel movements anonymously to an expert team for analysis.
In a recent study, British Medical Journal reported that dietary fibre can potentially reduce bowel cancer risk by up to 20%. Bowel cancer is the UK's second biggest cancer killer: one person dies every half an hour from the disease, often because of late diagnosis.
The Food Hospital Fibre Challenge app has been devised by betty, the production company behind the series, in consultation with Channel 4 and specialist dietitians. Betty's executive producer Neil Smith says, "betty has a track record for creating innovative content that captures the imagination. Our challenge was to translate this into a digital form, so we're thrilled that it's been so enthusiastically embraced. It's engaging content with the potential to save lives".
Deborah Alsina, Chief Executive of Bowel Cancer UK says: 'We are delighted the Fibre Challenge app has been so popular as it is an important early step to improving bowel health. It is well known that simple changes to your diet and lifestyle, such as increasing your intake of fibre can make you feel better and help stack the odds against bowel cancer. Therefore the makers of The Food Hospital are to be commended for bringing this into the mainstream. We now need to keep momentum and continue to raise awareness and encourage action around this important public health issue.'
Lizzy Keene, Senior Producer for Factual at Channel 4, adds "We are delighted with the success of the app and to have reached over 60,000 downloads already. Our aim was to encourage people to talk openly about their bowel habits and visit their GP with any concerns. Bowel cancer can be successfully treated if it's caught early enough and we wanted to break down the ‘poo taboo' in a fun but informative way."