Food Tracking Apps Proven To Help Shed Pounds

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

There´s no shortage of weight loss methods available to those looking to shed some extra pounds. Despite all the fad diets and extreme measures, many rely on the basics of counting calories, getting active and keeping a food journal. Fortunately, smartphones are able to take care of each of these tasks and today´s dieter has a wealth of options to choose from when it comes to weight loss or weight management apps.

To measure the effectiveness of some of these apps, researchers from the University of Liverpool developed their own app and asked some overweight and obese volunteers to test drive the app for four weeks. According to their study, weight loss apps can be quite effective in weight loss, with the average volunteer losing three pounds in four weeks.

Recently, the University of Liverpool´s Institute of Psychology, Health and Society performed their own research which found those who simply paid attention to what they ate were more likely to reduce the amount of food they ate and therefore reduce their caloric intake. The unnamed app was developed as an extension of this study.

Like many apps, the University of Liverpool app acts as a sort of food journal, allowing dieters to record their food consumption in three parts. The 12 overweight and obese patients were asked to snap a picture of the food they ate before tucking in. After this picture is taken, the app sends a notification reminding them to write down their thoughts about the meal. When they finished their meal, the app presented them with questions about their food, such as if they were full after the meal or if they ate everything on their plate.

Finally, the participants were shown chronological pictures of everything they´ve eaten with the app and reminded to eat attentively at their next meal.

The app also gave the dieters pointers on how to eat attentively.

For instance, the app suggested not eating with distractions, such as the television or listening to music, as this has been shown to increase food intake.

According to Dr. Eric Robinson who developed the app, simply taking a picture and being reminded of what they ate was enough to help these overweight participants drop the pounds.

“Data suggested that overweight and obese participants in our four week trial used the application regularly, personalized the application based on their daily routine and were able to use the three main functions of the application,” Dr. Robinson explained in a recent statement.

“Raising awareness of eating and weight loss achieved suggest this approach could be fruitful. The 1.5kg average weight loss observed is similar to a recent more intensive two month trial which investigated the impact of dietary/exercise advice and habit formation.”

Dr. Robinson went on to suggest that these participants could lose even more weight if they used the app for a longer period of time, though he also suggested a longer, clinical trial would have to be conducted to prove this theory.

“Our study introduces a new attentive eating approach aimed at reducing dietary intake and promoting weight loss, supported by theoretical models of the role of memory on energy intake regulation.”

Simply journaling about one´s eating habits has been proven before to be an effective way to lose weight. For instance, women who keep food journals have been found to lose on average six pounds more than those women who do not log their meals.

The research is being presented at the European Congress on Obesity (ECO) being held in Liverpool from 12-15 of May.

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