Parents, schools and hospitals will soon be able to collaborate more efficiently in improving the health and physical development of children, thanks to Size Thailand Kids, a programme initiated by the National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre (Nectec).
A joint creation involving Nectec and several organisations specialising in nutrition, the programme will allow all parties to keep track and monitor the development of children right from pre-school to their adolescent years.
Size Thailand Kids is an extension of the Size Thailand study Nectec undertook a few years ago to create the first national standard body-size chart for Thai people.
This new initiative was launched because there is no serious study in Thailand keeping track of children's diet and behaviour, as well as their health.
The programme so far covers four areas: growth and development monitoring system for pre-schoolers (less than six years old); food consumption behaviour and mobile app called FoodiEat; Thai School Lunch; and a system to monitor the health of high school students.
GROWTH MONITORING SYSTEM
This monitoring system for pre-school students is the result of a co-creation where Nectec is working with the Childhood Development Centre of Thammasat University and the National Institute for Child and Family Development, Mahidol University. The programme entails collecting physical statistics such as height, weight and head size, which will be kept in a database, together with a history of health checks, dental records and inoculations the children receive. This can help analyse child tendency and direction of their growth and development. In case an anomaly is spotted in their development or behaviour, the programme's filtering feature will alert users _ in this case parents or schools.
Supiya Charoensiriwath, a senior researcher with Nectec's Intelligent Informatics Research Unit, said the system will be beneficial to educational institutes, parents, child development centres, and medical staffs or anyone working for children. In the future, the system will be accessible to parents so they can comprehensively learn and monitor the health of their children (pre-schoolers), as well as share information with others.
"To be available nationwide, this data will enable parents to compare the state of their children's growth and development with children in other parts of the country," she said, adding that the programme will essentially be a statistical graph displaying weight, height and head size of children. Early next year, the programme will be available on a mobile application called "Kid Diary", which parents can use to record their children's data via mobile phone and sync the data on the net, while Nectec will take care of back-end analysis. The system is designed to integrate parents, schools and hospitals.
In due course the programme will be expanded to cover students in elementary and secondary schools.
The FoodiEat mobile application, meanwhile, allows general users to take photos and record consumption of every meal they eat per daily. Users can fill in the number of calories of food they eat or choose the average calories of popular Thai food _ on the list are more than 200 items such as khao kaprao kai, khao man kai etc. The system lets them calculate the body mass index (BMI) and the basal metabolic rate (BMR). Users can also publish the photo and food information via the social network.
The application runs on Apple's iOS platform. Users can download "FoodiEat" at App Store, while the Android platform and desktop version will be available soon, together with additional features such as exercise, and can be applied to children, as well.
THAI FOOD LUNCH
It was developed to help school prepare meals for students guided by nutritional content and balanced diet. Supiya's team applied Artificial Intelligent (AI) technology to devise the menu for such meals. For example, when the choice is kaeng jeud (clear soup), the programme will select another kind of dish to go with the soup, offering consumers a balanced and nutritional meal. The AI programme functions like a nutritionist. It will help schools summarise nutritional content and also estimate costs on a weekly or monthly basis.
Nectec is working with the Institute of Nutrition, Mahidol University, to develop the system, which it will pass to the Office of the Basic Education Commission, and make it available to schools online.
For monitoring the health of high school students Nectec, in collaboration with Chulaporn School in Chiang Rai province, is working on a programme based on blood reading and nutritional intake of students. The data will be used to study consumption behaviour of students, while there will be nutritionists recommending meals based on the state of their health.
Supiya said these four programmes will be integrated and turned into a national database containing information vital to the monitoring of children's health and development. Once it is in place any agency, public or private, or organisations interested in child development can access and make use of it.
About the author
- Writer: Sasiwimon Boonruang
Position: Life Writer