The App for Losing Fat Works

Mobile app for weight loss effectively helped adults lose more weight

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Tap Tap Tap! Salad, 380 calories. Tap Tap! Spin class, one hour. Are you one of the many who use a cell phone app to track calories and exercise? It may really be helping you lose more weight.

A recent study compared two groups of overweight adults trying to lose weight. Both groups followed a diet and exercise program. However, one group used a mobile phone app to track their progress.

The group using the mobile app lost more weight throughout a full year than the group that didn't use the app.

The app users actually lost more than 8 pounds at each weigh-in compared to the group only following the diet and exercise program.

"Use mobile phone apps for weight loss."

The study, led by Bonnie Spring, PhD, from the Department of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, aimed to determine whether mobile phone applications could effectively help individuals with weight loss.

The year-long study involved 69 overweight or obese adults who were randomly divided into two groups. None of the adults were substance abusers or binge eaters or had a severe mood disorder or psychiatric diagnosis.

One group received standard care from doctors in weight loss, involving changes to diet and an exercise program. Participants in both groups attended weight loss group classes twice a week.

But the second group received standard care as well as the use of a mobile phone app to help them monitor their diet and physical activity. Weight loss coaches also called members of this group twice a week for six months.

The participants' weight was measured at the start of the study and every three months afterward.

The patients who received usual care and used the mobile apps to track their diet and exercise lost an average of 8.6 pounds more at each of the weigh-ins than the group who only received usual care.

This greater loss of weight remained constant at each of the weigh-ins throughout the 12 months of the study.

Just over 36 percent of the participants in the group using mobile apps lost at least 5 percent of their original body weight at the start of the study. Meanwhile, none of the patients in the usual care group lost 5 percent of their starting body weight.

"The addition of a personal digital assistant and telephone coaching can enhance short-term weight loss in combination with an existing system of care," the authors wrote. "Mobile connective technology holds promise as a scalable mechanism for augmenting the effect of physician directed weight loss treatment."

The study was published December 10 in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The research was funded by a Veterans Affairs Merit Review Rehabilitation Research and Development-funded study at Hines VA Medical Center in Illinois. The mobile technology was funded by a grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
December 10, 2012
Last Updated:
April 11, 2013