If you’re trying to lose weight with the help of a smartphone app, a new study assesses the best apps to help get the job done.In a study published this month in the Journal of Translational Behavioral Medicine, study researcher Emily Breton for George Washington University in the US and her team set out to examine the best weight loss apps and how they measure up to scientific standards. The downside of the study is that the team used 200 apps available in the iTunes store in late 2009, and since then the market has been flooded with new apps. But the study provides some useful take-away points as to what may work and what to look for.
The top app was diet tracker SparkPeople, which scored high on all criteria in the study — including encouraging eating fruits and vegetables, physical activity, and drinking water. Also, the app features a food diary and helps users find a balance between calories consumed and burned.
Health news website MyHealthNewsDaily reported on September 28 that ideal programs “also would encourage a moderate weight loss of 0.5 to 0.9 kgs per week, focus on food-portion control and the reading of nutrition labels, provide a way to track weight and physical activity, and include a meal planner and a social-support component.”
When it comes to finding a good app, Breton also recommends looking at user ratings: in the study, her team found that the higher the user ratings for an app, the more likely the app adhered to science-based standards.
Popular fitness apps include Lose It!, Calorie Counter, My Fitness Pal, Food Scanner, and RunKeeper.
Prof Gary Miller from Wake Forest University, US, says while these kinds of apps can help you become aware of what you’re eating and how much you’re burning, but digital media is not likely to change your habits anytime soon.