In the era of mobile apps, many people are increasingly incorporating smartphone apps into weight loss regimens. To analyze the role of apps in weight loss, many studies have been recently conducted. According to a new study, simply tracking daily food intake via an app could lead to significant weight loss without having to follow ridiculously strict diet plans.
105 Mild to moderately overweight adults of age group 21-65
To study the efficacy of mobile apps for weight loss
All participants downloaded a free weight loss app, which allowed them to record their daily food intake while simultaneously recording daily changes in weight. The researchers used a free app where dieters can record their food intake and weight. The 105 participants were then divided into three separate groups to conduct a randomized and controlled clinical trial.
The participants were not encouraged or instructed to follow any specific diet plan. However, the participants were given generalized advice on healthy eating habits and instructed to log in their daily food intake into the app.
First Group: Monitored and recorded daily food intake into the app for three months
Second Group: Monitored and recorded daily food intake as well as weight into the app. They monitored their weight for the first month and then recorded both weight and food intake for the next two months. Researchers provided this group with weekly nutrition and behavioral lessons, while also giving feedback on their specific food intake and action plans for the next week.
Third Group: Monitored and recorded daily food intake as well as weight into the app for three months. Similar to the second group, Researchers provided this group with weekly nutrition and behavioral lessons, while also giving feedback on their specific food intake and action plans for the next week.
The feedbacks and weekly instructions were automated responses using free apps. This approach is significantly less costly than individualized weight loss interventions.
After three months of the study, participants from all three groups had achieved significant weight loss.
First Group: Average weight loss was 5 pounds.
Second Group: Average weight loss was 6 pounds.
Third Group: Average weight loss was 7 pounds.
Compliance was the crucial part that led to significant weight loss in each participant. Participants who tracked their food intake and weight consistently throughout the full period of 3 months achieved higher clinically significant weight loss than their less compliant counterparts.
Gary Bennett is a psychology professor at Duke University and coauthor of the paper in JMIR mHealth and uHealth. “Free and low-cost weight loss apps have changed the ways that Americans manage their weight. However, we knew little about whether these tools worked very well on their own. We’ve shown that commercial smartphone apps can be a helpful way to get started with weight loss.” Said Bennet.