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Lose 10 Pounds with a Free Smartphone Weight Loss App

Tim Boyer's picture

One method of weight loss is to monitor your food intake with calorie counting in conjunction with the amount of exercise performed on a daily basis. While much of this diet and exercise tracking is done on paper or an online weight loss management tool, researchers have found that sticking to either method is difficult for many to follow over extended periods―particularly when the method is limited to simply jotting down a record of the day’s diet and exercise data.

Recently, however, researchers announced that they have found a way to improve diet and exercise monitoring methods by making the methods more interactive and convenient through a smartphone app named “My Meal Mate."

"My Meal Mate" is a behavioral-based app that incorporates goal setting, self-monitoring of diet and activity, and feedback via weekly text message that is interactive and thereby helps dieters stay motivated and stay on track with their daily dieting and exercise routines.

While similar texting-based intervention apps have been developed in the past, the researchers report that this is the first one backed by a randomized controlled trial that focuses primarily on self-monitoring of diet and physical activity that is pitted against online and paper diary monitoring methods―the results of which are published in the current issue of the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

In the study, 128 overweight volunteers were randomly selected to receive a weight management intervention delivered by a smartphone app (“My Meal Mate”), a website, or a paper diary. Both the online and paper diary methods were from a commercial weight loss website owned by a company called Weight Loss Resources. The trial lasted 6 months and was entirely self-directed save for during the initial baseline enrollment and 2 follow-up sessions at 6 weeks and 6 months to measure the dieters’ results and submit questionnaires to the participants.

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At the end of the 6-month trial what the researchers found was that a dieting and exercise method that was made interactive via the smartphone texting app “My Meal Mate” yielded significantly greater weight loss results among the dieters (10 pounds) in comparison to those using the more traditional online tool (3 pounds) or paper diary (6.5 pounds) methods. Furthermore, the data also showed that participants who used the “My Meal Mate” app, did so on average once per day, whereas the online and paper diary participants used their weight loss method only about once a week on average.

According to a news release issued by the University of Leeds:

"Smartphone technology could be harnessed to promote health; generally people don't know how many calories they are eating daily. My Meal Mate really helped people monitor their food intake and resulted in an important amount of weight loss,” said Professor Janet Cade, from the School of Food Science and Nutrition, who lead the project. "The labeling on food packaging can help people to identify sensible food choices but it doesn't enable them to understand the cumulative effects of the foods they eat. Keeping a food diary allows us to see where we might be eating too much and the app has proved to be the most effective tracking method by far," added Professor Cade.

The free “My Meal Mate” app is now available for download for Android smartphones from the NHS Choices website and from the Google Play Store.

Image Source: Courtesy of MorgueFile

Reference: “My Meal Mate Smartphone Application for Weight Loss: Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial” Journal of Medical Internet Research 2013; Volume 15(4):e32; Michelle Clare Carter, MA, RD et al.