Your smartphone could be a key tool to losing weight according to scientists at the University of Leeds. Their study is the first to evaluate a smartphone app as the sole method for monitoring weight loss, with researchers creating My Meal Mate to trial against similar products for monitoring food intake, an online food diary and the traditional paper version.
The My Meal Mate app allows users to monitor their food intake and exercise, set a weight loss target and sends a weekly update on progress via text message. The smartphone app was used on average every other day in the trial; the average use of the website and paper diary was about once a week.
Over the 6-month study, those using the app lost on average 4.6kg (10 lbs), compared with the 2.9kg (6.5 lbs) and 1.3kg (3 lbs) lost by the paper-based and online diary users, respectively.
Unlike other currently available smartphone apps aimed at helping people monitor food intake and lose weight, My Meal Mate is the first free app to contain a large UK-based food database. This allows users to map their eating habits easily to the products they consume.
The pilot trial consisted of 128 overweight volunteers, split into three groups with each group using a different monitoring method. Their use of each method and their weight and other body measurements were monitored over six months.
The researchers say they "wouldn't expect people to use My Meal Mate daily for the rest of their lives, but it gives them the skills and education to monitor their diet themselves -- to have a better understanding of portion sizes, nutritional content and the effect of exercise".
Source: Journal of Internet Medical Research, April 2013.
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