Calorie Counting and Activity Tracking Mobile App helped with Weight Loss

Credit: National Cancer Institute Daniel Sone (Photographer) - PD

(Best Syndication News) - People lost an average of 15 pounds when they used a mobile phone app to track calories and physical activity during a study conducted by researchers from Northwestern University. The study results were published in the online first edition of the December 10, 2012 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The researchers point out that the mobile app was only partly responsible for the weight loss; the participants also attended regular classes that educated them about proper nutrition and exercise. The study also found that the people participating in the study were able to keep the weight off for more than one year.

Lead researcher, Bonnie Spring, who is a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said that the mobile app is vital to aid people's self-control. Most people do not know how many calories they eat each day. They also fail to spend enough time on physical activities, she added. People are able to make better choices throughout the day because of the feedback provided by the mobile app.

The yearlong study involved 69 overweight and obese adults with an average age of 58. Most of the participants were men. All of the participants attended classes on nutrition and on physical fitness two times each month for the first six months. After that, they attended classes once a month for the remaining six months. The participants were given a weekly goal for calorie intake based on their weight at the time. They were also given weekly physical activity goals based on what they were currently doing.

The control group was instructed to write down what they ate and their physical activities on paper. The other group was given a mobile app that would transmit the information they entered to a behavior coach. The coach monitored their information and would coach the participant for 10 to 15 minutes around twice a month.

The entire group of participants that used the mobile phone app lost an average of 8.6 pounds. Participants who attended 80 percent of the classes and used the mobile phone app lost an average of 15 pounds. Comparatively, the control group that did not use the mobile phone app did not lose any weight.

Spring cautions that commercially available mobile phone apps might not demonstrate the same weight loss results because they might not have been tested for effectiveness and are not evidence based. The mobile app used in the study was based on using techniques that would validate behavior change. Some of these techniques included using self-monitoring, goal setting, feedback, and getting social support.

By: Marsha Quinn
Health Reporter

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