According to a recent study, a cell phone app that tracks exercise, calories and weight loss goals is not enough to create meaningful weight loss in young adults.
The Duke Medicine research offers a sober insight about the complexities of weight loss and potential limitations of an app-based approach. The inexpensive and easily accessed tool was aimed at tech-savvy adults ages 18 to 35.
Thirty-five percent of this age-group is overweight or obese and that’s a huge public health problem, said lead author Laura P. Svetkey. “We thought that because this is an age group that is most engaged in technology, it might be possible to intervene and prevent future problems like cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and diabetes while they are still developing their lifestyle habits.”
The randomized study included 365 people ages 18 to 35 who were overweight or obese. One group of participants used a free, which was designed exclusively for the study through a collaboration between Duke investigators and the mHealth research group at Northeastern University.
Like many commercially available cell phone apps, CITY could be used to track calorie intake, activity and weight loss goals, and also offered weight loss tips and opportunities to connect with other users for social support.
On average, participants who used the Android app called CITY (Cell Phone Intervention for You) lost about 2 pounds after two years, no more than participants in a control group that received paper handouts about exercise and nutrition.
The study is published online by the journal Obesity.