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In the PACO project (which stands for Persuasive e-health Agents for Coaching Older adults towards dietary behavior change) a service is developed and evaluated that aims to improve eating behavior among older adults. At the same time, the service aims to decrease loneliness (as eating is a highly social event). To this goal, the PACO service offers two virtual agents (a peer and a cook) that provide different functionalities (e.g., a goal setting module, recipes, podcasts), and that offer advice. Besides development of the online service, the PACO project works towards the development of design guidelines for virtual agents in preventive health.

Figure 1: Screenshot of the PACO Demonstrator, where Ellen introduces herself.

The WOOL platform supports the dialogue that the peer (Ellen) and the cook offer. The process leading up to the PACO service is reported in the Design for Health article "Supporting eating behaviour of community-dwelling older adults: co-design of an embodied conversational agent" and the protocol for the evaluation of PACO can be found in the JMIR Article "Use and Effect of Web-Based Embodied Conversational Agents for Improving Eating Behavior and Decreasing Loneliness Among Community-Dwelling Older Adults: Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial". Other studies are momentarily being peer-reviewed.

Project Information:PACO is a project, funded by the Dutch organization for scientific health research (ZonMw), and is a collaboration between Dutch partners Wageningen University, Roessingh Research and Development, the National Foundation for the Elderly, and the Waag society.

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