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November 27, 2013

Should You Use Weight Loss Apps?

Weight Loss Apps

With obestity becoming an epidemic a proliferation of  weight loss apps have emerged. These apps help to monitor weight and body composition, track calorie intake, guide grocery shopping, encourage healthy cooking, and provide recipes and have flooded the market. But, do they work and help change behavior? The answer appears to be a disappointing “no” based on a recent study published online in the Journal of Preventive Medicine. The study looked at the two most popular apps in five categories (diet tracking, grocery decision making, restaurant decision making, healthy cooking, and weight tracking).

The authors of the study felt that the apps lack important features and fall short in changing behavior. Most of the apps included less than 25% of the lifestyle-based strategies for losing weight. They also did not feel the apps engaged the users as well as they should. They recommended that apps provide ways to better track progress by the users.

But, I think there are other reasons why these apps fall short of delivering results that we have discussed in other posts. Weight loss apps are largely based on calories in and calories out – track how many calories you take in and track how many calories you burn. But, as we have said before weight loss is more complicated than simply counting calories.

This does not mean you should not use an app to help lose weight, especially if it is free. Many of them are educational and should heighten your awareness as to what you are eating enabling you to make healthy adjustments. But, they are only as good as the information inputed ino them.

Future Weight Loss Apps

Improvements to the next generation of weight loss apps are already in the works. Some will contain barcode scanners providing detailed information on the food about to be eaten. Some apps are being designed to send users a text or email designed to encourage healthy eating and other desirable behaviors. Some will even be designed around providing financial incentives for those who meet their weight loss goals.

 

 

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Dr. Joe Jacko


Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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