June 3, 2010
Indiana State University Professor Rao Ivaturi for more than 10 years has understood the value of incorporating technology into his work as a nutritionist.
In October 2000, when the American Dietetic Association was scrambling to develop an online presence, he launched a Web site called Webdietitian.com to provide food and nutrition tips to users.
A couple of years later when he realized his Web site wasn't adequately meeting the needs of users, he developed PC-based software applications that allowed users to create customized weight management and diet plans for patients with diabetes, cardiovascular or renal problems.
Now Ivaturi has taken his work one step farther, enabling anyone with an iPhone free access to one of his weight management tools.
"This is only the first step," he says. "There's much more to come."
His application, Webdietitian BMI, allows for a straightforward measurement of body mass index.
After the user enters height and weight information, the program provides a body mass index that categorizes the user as underweight, normal, overweight or obese.
Ivaturi, who has taught graduate and undergraduate nutrition and dietetics courses for nearly 20 years, has plans for other applications that duplicate what he's already produced on CD-ROM. He envisions a diet planning guide that works as a one-time application to allow users to create meal plans that suit their needs. Another application will educate users about diabetes.
Ultimately, Ivaturi's goal is to educate and correct misconceptions about food.
"People have gotten messed up with portion size and serving size," he said. "That's the practical sort of information that we need to provide."
While Ivaturi's expertise is in the area of diet and nutrition, he says he's anything but an expert in software development. That's where his wife's assistance is invaluable. He supplies the information she needs to create the software applications, and she makes it user-friendly.
"This is the fanciest thing I've ever done in my life," he says. "I'm proud of the applications I'm developing because they're very original, and I have enjoyed being able to see them in use in my practice."
Ivaturi's software applications are drawing mixed reviews from others in his field, he says, because the applications often negate the need for nutritionists, dietitians and doctors to maintain file cabinets full of information they've amassed through years of study. His program can replicate their effort with only a cursory entry of information, he says.
The applications "are a blessing or a curse depending on your vantage point," he says. "I hope most people will think of them as a blessing."
Contact: Rao Ivaturi, associate professor, ISU Family and Consumer Sciences at 812-237-3312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Writer: Rachel Wedding McClelland, assistant director of media relations, ISU Communications and Marketing at 812-237-3790 or email@example.com.
An ISU professor's work with diet and nutrition has led him to develop an application that can be downloaded to an iPhone.