Expert system for human nutrition analysis is an expert system for diagnosing, controlling, and monitoring human nutrition. The system assesses the physical characteristics of the user to determine their nutritional status and makes recommendations for reaching nutritional requirements and a balanced diet, as a consequence generating a knowledge database with the nutritional status and dietary habits for the user. The system generates challenges, alerts, and constantly motivates the user to use the application and improve their nutritional habits. The expert system is implemented using the C++ Expert System Shell, libraries (Laboratories 2012) and the C++ programming language running as a Web Service on a Window Web Server. The system calculates the BMI, Body Mass Index, as in Eq. 1 (OMS 2012), the ideal weight and physical contexture, frame size (Rivas 1991) and uses dietary information from (Bermudez 2012). This is our base for nutritional diagnosis on the proposed system. This system will be developed for all users as a tool to improve their eating habits and nutritional wellbeing. The goal is to incorporate the use of this application into their daily lives and help them acquire and maintain healthier eating habits.
1.1 Background of Study
An expert system or electronic diagnose system is a software hardware system that attempts to reproduce the performance of one or more human experts, most commonly in a specific problem domain, and is a traditional application and/or subfield of artificial intelligence.
A wide variety of methods can be used to simulate the performance of the expert however common to most or all are
1) The creation of a so-called “knowledgebase” which uses some knowledge representation formalism to capture the subject matter experts (SME) knowledge and
2) A process of gathering that knowledge from the SME and codifying it according to the formalism, which is called knowledge engineering. Expert systems may or may not have learning components but a third common element is that once the system is developed it is proven by being placed in the same real world problem solving situation as the human SME, typically as an aid to human workers or a supplement to some information system.
As a premiere application of computing and artificial intelligence, the topic of expert systems has many points of contact with general systems theory, operations research, business process reengineering and various topics in applied mathematics and management science.
Two illustrations of actual expert systems can give an idea of how they work. In one real world case at a chemical refinery a senior employee was about to retire and the company was concerned that the loss of his expertise in managing a fractionating tower would severely impact operations of the plant. A knowledge engineer was assigned to produce an expert system reproducing his expertise saving the company the loss of the valued knowledge asset. An early commercial success and illustration of another typical application (a task generally considered overly complex for a human) was an expert system fielded by DEC in the 1980s to quality check the configurations of their computers prior to delivery. The eighties were the time of greatest popularity of expert systems and interest lagged after the onset of the AI Winter.
In like manner, developing one of such system to represent the repository of the knowledge of a medical doctor is as essential as any other expert system. To this end, this project, Expert System for human nutrition analysis is a necessity.
It is also, necessary for human health risk to nutrition to be managed effectively, because malnutrition can cause deformed health status. In the next chapter the researcher will highlight more on human nutrition and analysis also on expert systems.
1.2 Statement of Research
The eating habits of today’s Nigeria society are alarming. Obesity rates have increased making our country one of the most obese populations in the African region. Six in ten people suffer a disproportionate increase in their weight because their poor nutritional habits (CACIA 2012). The prevalence of obesity, BMI > 30, is 59 percent (Rosero 2009). Studies estimates Nigeria will be one of the ten most obese and mal-nutritional populations in the world by 2020 (Euromonitor 2011).
This reality makes it essential to raise public awareness about the need for a much needed dietary improvement and encourage preventive care. Many people, and particularly students, cannot afford to consult a private nutritional expert (Morales 2012). One problem in healthcare is the lack of availability for frequently health monitoring. Health software offers less expensive solutions reducing the physician-patient physical relation and provides monitoring solutions. This system can help facilitate the distribution of nutritional information, learn to assess their own nutritional level, and acquire better eating habits to improve their current condition (CIGA 2007) and (Salud 2003).
Health care facility should be accessible by all at all times. But some of the people that should access these facilities are far removed from these facilities. More so, in the few available facilities, qualified medical personnel are always key issues that need urgent redress.
In view of the foregoing, it would be of great necessity to provide an expert system that will provide a complementary medical service such as human nutrition analysis system where it can be accessed and used by the masses,, also to places where medical attention accessibility is a problem as well as health care facilities where qualified experts are lacking, hence this topic, Expert System or electronic diagnosis system on nutrition.