Smartphone app can improve weight loss
A new app called My Meal Mate by the U.K.'s NHS can help you lose weight by monitoring your calorie intake.
Tue, Apr 16, 2013 at 11:06 AM
Can your smartphone help you lose weight? On April 15, the U.K. National Health Service published the results from a survey showing overweight participants dropped three times the weight of those who used a paper diary.
The NHS app, My Meal Mate, lets users monitor their food intake and exercise and set a weight-loss target, then sends a weekly text that tells users how they're progressing. The smartphone app was used on average every other day in the trial, while the alternate methods, an online tracker and paper diary, were used only once a week.
Over six months, those using the app lost 10 pounds, online diary users lost 6.5 pounds and those who used a paper diary lost only 3 pounds. The test was conducted by Janet Cade, a professor at the School of Food Science and Nutrition in London. The group of 128 overweight volunteers was divided into roughly three even groups.
Cade attributed the success of the app to its large database of food, which is the first app to include U.K.-based food.
"Generally people don't know how many calories they are eating daily," Cade said in a statement. "The app allows users to map their eating habits easily to the products they consume."
The features of My Meal Mate are similar to My Fitness Pal and Lose It, two popular weight-loss apps in the U.S. These apps offer grocery store items, restaurant meals, as well as allowing users to add their own food. The idea is to establish a calorie limit for the day and then check calories before you eat. For instance, the blooming onion at Outback Steakhouse (listed as the worst thing you can eat in America by website Eat This, Not That) has 1,560 calories — which leaves very little food for the rest of the day. When a user logs in their exercise, the app adds calories burned back into the limit for the day.
If the secret to weight loss is knowing how many calories you may eat in a day, then it's easy to see how having a tracking app on your smartphone helps.
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