By Nicole Marie, Staff Writer
It’s no surprise our smartphones have not only become part of our daily lives, but an extension of ourselves. Our pictures document some of the most memorable times of our lives. We download songs that become a soundtrack from our favorite trips or important life events, and our apps reflect our interests.
With young adults being the biggest consumer of smartphones, it was genius when creators developed apps to help us document and achieve our weight loss goals. What better way to be mindful of our calories and activity than by continually updating our apps in real-time? I came across this article that offered some insight.
But how effective have weight loss apps been at helping us achieve our goals?
According to an NPR article, researchers from Duke University wanted to know if these apps helped the more than 35% of young adults considered overweight or obese in our country. Their findings were published in the journal Obesity.
They took 365 young adults ages 18 to 35 and directed a third of the participants to use an Android app specifically created for the study. It tracked calories, weight, and exercise, as well offered goal setting and social support.
Another third received six weekly personal coaching sessions, followed by monthly phone follow-ups. They were also directed to track their progress on a smartphone.
The final group only received handouts on health eating and exercise.
“Researchers tracked the young adults' progress after six months, one year and two years. The personal coaching group had lost more weight than the other two groups after six months, but that lead vanished at the one- and two-year follow-ups. As for the group using the smartphone app, their average weight loss was never more than the other two groups.”
Doctors said they were surprised and disappointed that while popular, smartphone apps weren’t more effective at helping participants reach their goals.
In speaking with a good friend of mine who’s used weight loss apps to document her goals, she echoed some of those same conclusions. True progress basically boiled down to having accountability from someone other than herself.
In closing, researchers felt while there is no harm in using these apps, it might not be worth it if they are not working.
Through my personal experience as a competitive bodybuilder, nothing has helped me reach my goals better than having a tangible support system.