Current Weather
The Spy FM

Calorie Tracking Apps May Help Boost Weight Loss

Filed by KOSU News in Health.
December 11, 2012

If you happen to be a techie with weight loss goals, you’ve likely noticed the explosion in calorie-counting and exercise-tracking apps available on smartphones.

Whether it’s Fit Bit, Tap and Track, Map My Walk, Weight Watchers or any of the other tracking apps, dieters with smartphones are increasingly drawn to these nifty tools.

Why? Experts says tracking helps us regulate our behavior, by keeping us mindful and vigilant.

But how effective are these tools?

A new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine concludes that a mobile app can help boost weight loss, if it’s used as part of a more comprehensive strategy.

Researchers at Northwestern University studied about 70 overweight men. Their average age was 58, so they weren’t exactly born with smart phones in their hands.

Some of the men were asked to log their eating and activity using old-fashioned pen and pad. Others were given a mobile app, and their behaviors were monitored by a coach who provided short, telephone-based check-in sessions periodically during the study. In addition, all of the participants were offered group classes in nutrition and behavior change.

So who did best? The men who used the mobile app and attended 80 percent of the health education classes.

“They were able to lose 15 pounds and keep it off (for a year),” says Bonnie Spring, study author and professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. She explains the group support offered by the classes helps explain the success. “People need all the tools at their disposal.”

The average weight loss among those who used the app — including those who did not attend the classes — was 8.6 pounds. The men who were offered education classes but no mobile app did not lose weight.

Of course most people who use mobile apps to track diet and exercise don’t have a professional “nudger” or coach who’s minding their progress like the people in the study had. So it’s hard to tease apart exactly how effective the mobile app would have been if used alone.

But the findings speak to the importance of blending two successful weight loss strategies: tracking and group support.

Note: The app used in the study was developed by the researchers. But many of the commercial apps (which typically are not studied for effectiveness) are similar, in that they’re primarily used to track calories or exercise and evaluate progress. [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

Leave a Reply

2PM to 3PM The Dinner Party

The Dinner Party

Think NPR meets Vanity Fair. In each episode, hosts Rico Gagliano & Brendan Francis Newnam talk with some of the world's most interesting celebrities, and along the way equip you with bad jokes, fresh drink recipes, hot food finds, odd news stories... and etiquette tips from the likes of Henry Rollins and Dick Cavett. It's all you need to get an edge in your weekend conversations. Past guests include Michelle Williams, Judd Apatow, Kid Cudi and Sir Richard Branson. Wallpaper magazine calls The Dinner Party one of the Top 40 Reasons To Live In The USA.

Listen Live Now!

3PM to 4PM The Splendid Table

The Splendid Table

Hosted by award-winning Lynne Rossetto Kasper, The Splendid Table is a culinary, culture and lifestyle program that celebrates food and its ability to touch the lives and feed the souls of everyone.

View the program guide!

4PM to 5PM Weekend All Things Considered

Weekend All Things Considered

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center