LSU PBRC Whole-health App Supports Soldiers—and Everyone
January 18, 2022
Putting 30 Years of Soldier Science in Your Pocket
Over the past 30 years, scientists at LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center
(PBRC) have fundamentally changed how American soldiers eat. As the number-one provider
of nutrition science for the U.S. Department of Defense, PBRC researchers are helping
to secure the nation by making sure soldiers get the food and drink they need to optimize
their performance and protect against injury.
This work impacts every branch of the military. And by leveraging technology, the researchers are putting science in the hands of soldiers and their families. A prime example is through the Army H.E.A.L.T.H. (Healthy Eating, Activity, Lifestyle Training Headquarters) app, which more than 15,000 U.S. soldiers have used so far, with regular users improving their performance on physical fitness tests and in meeting military weight standards.
The researchers are now turning decades of knowledge from working with soldiers into a new whole-health app for everyone. It’s called Z!G and although powered by artificial intelligence, it’s not looking for perfection.
The retooled app includes custom workout generators, meal planning tools (complete with grocery lists), and interactive trackers, including for sleep and stress management. It was designed to be like a quiet, supportive coach in everyone’s pocket.
Z!G was developed in close collaboration with the Louisiana National Guard. A customized version of the app has already been tested by a majority of the state’s citizen soldiers and their families, in all 64 Louisiana parishes.
“This app has been a very good tool for me in my life, personally, but it’s also a great leadership tool. It’s helped me be a better resource for others. You want to be able to counsel your subordinate soldiers and veterans in a positive way, and the app is something I can put in their hands and into the hands of younger leaders who are put in charge of soldiers.”- Captain Michael Switzer, Louisiana National Guard—the soldier perhaps most familiar with the LSU/Pennington-developed health app, because not only did he help design it, but he and his wife both use it