Mobile phone apps help people lose weight

By Sheryl Kay • Published: March 7th, 2013
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Those little cell phone apps may be coming to the rescue again.

Not only can they show you your way or identify an obscure song, now new research shows that mobile phone applications may also be an important part of a successful weight-loss program.

While other studies have shown the benefit in using many hardware and software solutions to help in monitoring one’s health, this investigation was the first to demonstrate that technology can specifically generate sustained weight loss when paired with an existing program of nutrition classes.

Researchers spent one year monitoring 70 adults, all of whom were enrolled in health education classes that included modules on exercise, nutrition and behavior change. Each participant was assigned weight and exercise goals, and was encouraged to keep a daily diary reflecting changes. Half of the group was also given a cell phone that enabled transmission of their results to a coach. Those with the phones were also given the opportunity to speak with the coach for 10 minutes each month.

Two years after the beginning of the study, the researchers found that those who used the mobile apps lost an average of almost nine pounds and maintained that for a year, while those who did not use the mobile app lost nothing.

The fact that a coach was available to those who were given the cell phone and not to the control group was not significant according to the researchers, because the amount of time the coach was available for feedback was minimal.

However, the researchers did note that the cell phone users received immediate feedback via the phone and perceived that the coach was watching their results, leaving them feeling more accountable … and that may be the reason the cell app is an ideal way to help in weight loss.