Can An App Make You Eat More Vegetables and Lose Weight?
It seems there is an app for just about everything today, including scores of apps for weight loss. What do you think about an app that may help you eat more vegetables and lose weight?
That’s a question a team at Stanford University School of Medicine decided to tackle with a small group of overweight adults. To their knowledge, no previous study had looked at the efficacy of an app designed to increase an overweight person’s consumption of vegetables.
People who replace many of the high-calorie, high-fat foods in their diet with more vegetables and fruits often can experience significant weight loss. However, encouraging overweight individuals to increase their vegetable consumption and maintain it can be a challenge.
Study of a vegetable app
Since apps can be a cost-effective way to help people change their behavior, why not use one to boost veggie consumption? In a study of 17 overweight adults (body mass index, 32.0), 9 were in a control group and 8 were assigned to download an app (Vegethon) to increase the amount of vegetables they ate.
The app allowed the participants to self-monitor their vegetable consumption, set goals, receive feedback, and see social comparisons (i.e., they could “compete” with other Vegethon users). Both the app users and the controls were part of a 12-month weight loss trial, and the app use was evaluated for 12 weeks.
All of the participants self-reported their vegetable consumption using the Harvard Food Frequency Questionnaire. Here are the results:
- Five of the 8 adults completed the study; 2 downloaded the app but did not use it, and 1 didn’t download the app
- The five who used the app consumed significantly more vegetables than did the subjects in the control group, increasing their overall vegetable consumption by 7.4 servings daily
- Specifically, there was significantly greater consumption of green leafy vegetables, dark yellow vegetables, and cruciferous vegetables
- The app users “found Vegethon easy to use” and “would recommend Vegethon to a friend”
Although this was a small study sample, the authors concluded that their results “suggest that a theory-based mobile app may be a feasible way to increase vegetable consumption among adults attempting to lose weight, at least in the short term.”
Other vegetable consumption apps
Boosting your vegetable intake will provide you with more fiber (which fills you up), water (ditto), and phytonutrients while helping you steer clear of saturated fat and cholesterol. If you (and your kids—make it a family affair!) would like to try an app that encourages you to eat more veggies and lose weight, here are a few examples.
(Note: I have never used any of these apps. The list is for information only.)
- iHeart Veggies. You can earn points for the veggies you eat. iHeart Veggies has a a built-in tracking system that assists you in identifying what’s missing in your diet.
- Veggie Bottoms. This is an educational app for kids “that makes healthy eating fun.”
- Veggie Pact. Users make a pact regarding how many vegetables and fruits they will eat per week. This app asks you to take pictures of your veggies, have them verified by the Pact community, and even involves cash rewards.
- Harvest App. This app is a little different in that it provides lots of info about fruits and vegetables, including what’s in season. Harvest App is more of a motivator once you’ve decided to eat more veggies.
Also Read: College students failing to eat fruits and vegetables
Does a vegetarian diet promote weight loss?
9 tips on switching to a vegetarian diet and healthy weight loss
Mummah SA et al. Mobile technology for vegetable consumption: a randomized controlled pilot study in overweight adults. JMIR mHealth and uHealth 2016 May 13; 4(2): e51
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