Electronic devices with reminders make sticking to diets easier

June 5, 2012 By Glenda Fauntleroy

There’s some good news for those trying to lose weight with the help of new apps on their mobile devices. They may actually work, says a new research study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

“Our study provides evidence that ongoing contact through hand-held devices can be beneficial to individuals who are trying to lose weight,” said study author Mindi Styn, Ph.D., a research assistant professor of nursing and epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh.

Past research has shown that self-monitoring one’s daily calorie intake and exercise may be the best way to make the necessary behavior changes to follow a regimen. The old method of writing it down in a paper diary can be tedious, however, so the new study looked at whether the technological advances of electronic devices have made it easier to stick with self-monitoring.

The researchers recruited 210 overweight or obese adults with body mass indexes between 27 and 43 who were randomly assigned to three different groups: self-monitoring with an electronic diary, self-monitoring with a device that provided feedback via a daily message, or self-monitoring with a paper diary. All participants had group counseling sessions on weight loss and set daily calorie intake and physical activity goals.

After 24 months, people who stuck to their diaries, be they electronic or paper, more than 60 percent of the time, lost more weight than those who self-monitored less than 30 percent of the time. But those using the device with feedback were more likely to stick to the daily self-monitoring and had the greatest weight loss, with an average of 2.3 percent.

Lawrence Cheskin, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center at Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore said he encourages patients trying to to take advantage of tools that facilitate self-monitoring since it’s been shown to increase the likelihood of success.

“Applications that remind people of what they are trying to do and how to do it are potentially very helpful,” he added.

Though the researchers had anticipated a greater weight loss overall and greater differences between groups, they found the average weight loss among the three groups was about the same. Styn suggested that the self-monitoring software on the device they used was not as user-friendly as current apps on the market, which may have discouraged some participants.

Explore further: Overweight, obese adults use electronic device to stick to diet, exercise

More information: Burke LE, Styn MA, et al. Using mHealth technology to enhance self-monitoring for weight loss. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, June 2012.

Related Stories

Overweight, obese adults use electronic device to stick to diet, exercise

March 15, 2012
Overweight and obese adults who used an electronic diary program on a personal digital assistant did better at staying on diet and physical activity programs, researchers reported at the American Heart Association's Epidemiology ...

Losing weight, keeping it off might require distinct skill sets

July 5, 2011
A new study indicates that the practices that help people to lose weight and the practices that help them keep it off do not overlap much.

Technology can help shed pounds

July 6, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Anyone who has ever struggled to stick to a restricted diet knows that willpower alone is rarely a successful offense.

Dieting beats exercise for diabetes prevention, combination is best

August 30, 2011
Lifestyle changes that include dieting to lose weight and exercise can help prevent type 2 diabetes, but researchers were uncertain which element contributes more. A new study suggests that, in postmenopausal women at least, ...

Recommended for you

Amber-tinted glasses may provide relief for insomnia

December 15, 2017
How do you unwind before bedtime? If your answer involves Facebook and Netflix, you are actively reducing your chance of a good night's sleep. And you are not alone: 90 percent of Americans use light-emitting electronic devices, ...

Warning labels can help reduce soda consumption and obesity, new study suggests

December 15, 2017
Labels that warn people about the risks of drinking soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages can lower obesity and overweight prevalence, suggests a new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study.

Office work can be a pain in the neck

December 15, 2017
Neck pain is a common condition among office workers, but regular workplace exercises can prevent and reduce it, a University of Queensland study has found.

Regular takeaways linked to kids' heart disease and diabetes risk factors

December 14, 2017
Kids who regularly eat take-away meals may be boosting their risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, suggests research published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Simulation model finds Cure Violence program and targeted policing curb urban violence

December 14, 2017
When communities and police work together to deter urban violence, they can achieve better outcomes with fewer resources than when each works in isolation, a simulation model created by researchers at the UC Davis Violence ...

One in five patients report discrimination in health care

December 14, 2017
Almost one in five older patients with a chronic disease reported experiencing health care discrimination of one type or another in a large national survey that asked about their daily experiences of discrimination between ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.