The app called "diet & acne" created at Northwestern University uses data from a systematic analysis of peer-reviewed research studies to show people if there is or is not scientific evidence linking acne to foods such as chocolate, fat, sugar and whey protein.
"Users may be surprised to learn that there is no conclusive evidence from large randomized controlled trials that have linked chocolate and acne," said Diana Cohen, creator of the app.
"Although one small study found that eating 100 percent cocoa could worsen acne symptoms," said Cohen, who designed the app when she was a student at the Segal Design Institute at Northwestern.
Research displayed in the app shows that dairy (especially skim milk), whey protein, omega-6 fatty acids and foods high in sugar have been associated with the presence of acne.
It also explains that foods rich in antioxidants and fibre have been associated with a decreased presence of acne in some studies.
Just over 100 people responded to a survey embedded in the app, and 87 percent of respondents reported having acne for a duration of more than one year, with 37 percent reporting they had not seen a physician for their acne.
These results show that well-constructed apps, based upon peer-reviewed literature, can be a highly effective method to widely disseminate medical information to a large and diverse population.
"People all over the world are turning to mobile apps as a source of information regarding health issues, but most of the apps out there are not evidence-based, and some exist to just sell a product," Cohen said.
"This app is different because it uses evidence from a systematic review of peer-reviewed literature and puts it at a patient's fingertips," she said.
Details about the use of the app were published in the journal JAMA Dermatology.


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