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Mobile phone weight loss apps really do help dieters

Kim Hookem-Smith
Yahoo Lifestyle
12 December 2012

If you’re planning a New Year diet, don’t forget to get help from your mobile phone.

A new study has found that dieters who use mobile apps are more likely to lose weight and keep it off than those who go it alone.

The study split 70 people enrolled in a weight-loss programme in the US two groups and randomly assigned one group to receive tech-based support in addition to the programme.

After three months, this lucky group were found to have lost an average 7lbs more than the others, who had not received this support. This trend continued at six months and the supported group was also found to be twice as likely to have maintained a healthy weight a year on.

[Related: Why cutting carbs could make you put ON weight]

The researchers insisted that the apps needed to use only relatively simple technology, but be a convenient way to deliver traditional weight loss advice.

There are many dieting apps available for mobiles. Most, including the technology used in this study, offer dieters an easy way to track how many calories they consume each day and how much exercise they’re doing.

In this study’s case, the data is transmitted back to a health coach, who checks in with the dieters once a week to discuss progress.

Though it’s unlikely many of us will have access to a health expert, the researchers hope that their findings will help weight loss programmes to give more support to dieters without increasing the cost.
But just the act of recording your behaviour could be enough to stay on track.

Lead author of the study, Professor Bonnie Springs, said: “The two most effective components of weight management are encouraging people to self-monitor, and providing social support.”

[Related: Is this the real reason you're overweight?]

Bonnie explained that though doctors advise patients on weight loss and aim to help, they often don’t have the time to give the continued support and feedback that’s necessary to break the cycle.

She hopes that this method will increase the availability of help by replacing in-person counselling, which is expensive, with remote or telephone support.

In the mean time, we’ll definitely be some loading up some new apps for January.

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