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ValueMe App Promises Discounts for Buying Healthy Groceries


Are you willing to tell your health insurance company what groceries you are buying in order to get a discount?

That is the concept behind an innovation that won first place at the 15th annual IDEAS Global Challenge, held last month in the MIT Media Lab.

ValueMe uses an algorithm which can instantaneously convert a grocery list into a nutrition summary based on USDA databases, and provide instantaneous recommendations to achieve a balanced diet.

“When they’re printing your receipt, will receive a nutrition snapshot of everything that you purchased and it will analyze if there are components or nutrients that are missing in your diet,” said Malena Gonzalez, a member of the ValueMe team, in an MIT press release. “This provides, at the point of sale, education for consumers on how healthy they’re eating.”

But the app user may not like the next part. The shopper must swipe a health insurance card, and those nutritional values are sent to the insurance company, which provides instant discounts for healthier food purchases.

Discounts are good, but do you really want insurance companies to use your grocery list data to determine premiums and benefits in the future?

ValueMe team member Malena Gonzalez, a student in MIT’s Executive MBA Program, said the team’s app is powered by an algorithm that leverages data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Nutrient Database. In so doing, the app can analyze someone’s groceries for missing vitamins, minerals, protein, and carbohydrates needed to fulfill a preset diet. By partnering with the American Association of Retired Persons, ValueMe also plans to incentivize buyers with discounts for buying healthier foods.

The team aims to partner with supermarkets to integrate their system at registers. At check-out, a person will swipe their insurance card, and the system will recognize the person and analyze all food items purchased for nutritional value. This information will be sent to the buyer’s app.



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