The use of an app to support people with IBS who follow a low FODMAP diet

IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) is a chronic functional bowel disorder that affects around 1 in 10 adults in the UK. Dietary triggers are difficult to identify but clinical research has shown that some carbohydrates (FODMAPs) may contribute to bowel symptoms in IBS. FODMAPs are fermentable oligo-saccharides, disaccharides, mono-saccharides and polyols and are contained in a wide range of foods including wheat products, onion, garlic products and some fruits and vegetables.

Situation

FODMAP restriction leads to symptom improvement in up to three-quarters of patients when they are counselled by a dietitian. FODMAP restriction is not a long-term management strategy and patients are counselled to reintroduce FODMAPs to their own personal tolerance threshold for long-term self-management. The whole process usually takes 4 months and successful low FODMAP education reduces the burden on clinical services and improves patients’ quality of life. Supporting large numbers of NHS patients when they are following this complex dietary intervention can be a logistical challenge. Therefore, the development of an app to provide patients with further educational tools to make their day-to-day experience of following such a restrictive diet was very appealing.

The team of clinical and research gastroenterology dietitians at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust and King's College London wanted to provide a tool to benefit both dietitians and patients to manage a low FODMAP diet effectively.

Aspiration

Create a new app to support the education process for people with IBS whose dietitian has recommended that they follow a low FODMAP diet.

Solution and impact

FoodMaestro has collaborated with King’s College London and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust to create a new app to support the education process for people with IBS whose dietitian has recommended that they follow a low FODMAP diet.

The app aims to support patients with shopping for suitable foods and guiding them through the 3 stages of the low FODMAP diet. It is recommended that this app is used in conjunction with the support of a registered dietitian. A dietitian will assess whether this is the correct dietary treatment for the patient, explain the principles of the low FODMAP diet, guide them through the 3 stages and check that diet is balanced and nutritious.

The FoodMaestro FODMAP app allows health professionals and patients to:

  • follow all stages of a low FODMAP diet easily using an intuitive design with short video clips
  • share information
  • record and track symptoms during each stage
  • receive consumption moderation warnings for specific foods
  • discover which food products can be eaten
  • scan food product bar codes to check suitability
  • access portion guidance for specific foods
  • create a personalised dietary profile

Functionality

  • Each patient has their own device which is connected to a smartphone app
  • The app is downloaded from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store

Capabilities

App features enable users to:

  • access low FODMAP diet guidance for people with IBS
  • discover FODMAP-friendly foods you can eat
  • scan product barcodes to check suitability
  • access portion guidance and FODMAP look-up table
  • record and track gut symptoms
  • create a personalised dietary profile

A key feature of the new app is the ability to quickly and easily find suitable foods to eat from more than 30,000 ingredients and 100,000 products in leading UK supermarkets.

Scope

The app can be used by suitable IBS patients as advised by a clinician.

Key figures/quotes

“Our research shows that 52% of users (n=11,689) with symptoms before starting the diet report symptom improvement following FODMAP restriction. FODMAP reintroduction was carried out by 2,053 users with wheat bread, onion, garlic, milk and wheat pasta being reported as the most common dietary triggers.”
Dr Miranda Lomer, senior consultant dietitian in gastroenterology, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust

Find out more

Access the FODMAP app

Key contact

Miranda Lomer MBE, PhD, RD senior consultant dietitian in gastroenterology, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust

miranda.lomer@kcl.ac.uk

Julia Hayden, head of dietetic innovation at FoodMaestro

julia@foodmaestro.me