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Advances in health and medicine.
Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
Advances in health and medicine.
Nutrition & Wellness Channel
Reported December 12, 2012

Overweight? There’s an App for That!


(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A mobile app that tracks eating and activity, helped people lose on average 15 pounds and kept it off for a year, according to a new Northwestern Medicine study.  However, the technology did not help when its users also attended regular nutrition and exercise classes.
"The app is important because it helps people regulate their behavior, which is really hard to do.  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. The 'widget' is critical but it is not magical by itself. People need all the tools at their disposal,” lead investigator and professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Bonnie Spring, was quoted as saying.
Researchers studied 69 overweight adults averaging 58 years of age and mostly men.  All patients were offered exercise and nutrition classes twice a month for the first six months and once a month for the rest of the year.
This study is the first to show that technology along with existing programs of weight loss classes can result in sustained weight loss.  The technology is based on self-monitoring, feedback, goal setting, and social support.  
People who used the mobile phone technology and attended 80 percent of the health education sessions lost 15 pounds and maintained the loss for one year.  The average weight loss for people, who used the technology and the classes, was 8.6 pounds.  The control group (those who went to classes but didn’t use the app) did not lose weight.
"The coaches' most important role was being in the wings.  The patients know the coaches are hovering and supportively holding them accountable. They know somebody is watching and caring and that's what makes a difference,” Spring was quoted as saying.
"This approach empowers patients to help themselves on a day-to-day basis.  We can help people lose meaningful amounts of weight and keep it off. To do that we need to engage them in tracking their own eating and activity, learn how that governs weight, and take advantage of social support,” Spring concluded.
SOURCE:  Archives of Internal Medicine, December 2012
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