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A new mobile app that tracks what you eat and how much you exercise can help you shed an average of 6 kg and even keep it off for a year, researchers claim.
According to a new Northwestern Medicine study, the mobile app can boost weight loss but the users also need to attend regular classes about nutrition and exercise, the app alone will not help.
"The app is important because it helps people regulate their behaviour, which is really hard to do," said Bonnie Spring, lead investigator of the study.
"Most of us have no idea how many calories we consume and how much physical activity we get. The app gives you feedback on this and helps you make smart decisions in the moment," Spring said in a statement.
"The 'widget' is critical but it is not magical by itself. People need all the tools at their disposal," Spring said.
This is the first study to show that technology added to an existing programme of weight loss classes can produce sustained weight loss.
The technology used for the app is based on validated behaviour change techniques including self-monitoring, goal setting, feedback and social support.
The study included 69 overweight and obese adults who were an average age of 58 and primarily men. All participants were offered health education classes on nutrition, exercise and behavior change twice monthly during the first six months and once monthly for the remainder of the year.
Each participant received weekly calorie goals based on his current weight and weekly activity goals based on his current level of activity.
Participants receiving treatment as usual recorded their eating and activity on paper. Those in the experimental treatment used the mobile device to transmit their data to a behavioural coach, who monitored their information and provided scheduled telephone coaching for 10 to 15 minutes about twice monthly.