Efforts to track food intake on smartphone app impacted by day of week but not season of year

January 8, 2018, Elsevier
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Dietary self-monitoring is a key component of successful behavioral weight loss interventions and is essential for facilitating other behavior change techniques (eg, setting goals, providing behavioral feedback). Few studies, however, have examined weekly and seasonal patterns of dietary self-monitoring, particularly when using a smartphone application (app). A new study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior found that the amount of time in a study and day of the week were associated with dietary self-monitoring but not season.

"A key question we wanted to answer is what impact the holiday season has on individuals' efforts to monitor their calorie intake," said lead author Christine A. Pellegrini, PhD, Assistant Professor of Exercise Science at the University of South Carolina and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Study participants were randomized into one of three loss conditions as part of the E-Networks Guiding Adherence to Goals in Exercise and Diet (ENGAGED) study. One group of 32 adults with a body mass index that classified them as obese was asked to self-monitor dietary intake on the ENGAGED study smartphone app. The app contained a database of over 50,000 generic and name brand foods. Daily dietary self-monitoring data were obtained from the app over the six-month study. For each day in the study, the number of foods, calories, and fat grams that were recorded were analyzed and a daily average for each participant was calculated.

After analysis of the data, a reduction in the number of foods reported by each person was seen with each successive day in the study. There was also a weekend effect such that participants reported significantly fewer foods between Thursday and Sunday relative to Monday. The study, however, determined that although more was reported in January, an overall seasonality effect was not observed.

A new study examines weekly and seasonal patterns of dietary self-monitoring, particularly when using a smartphone app. Credit: Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior

"Adults generally gain weight during the holidays and self-monitoring can help to manage weight during this period," reported Pellegrini. "Weight loss is a common New Year's resolution and may explain the increased number of foods reported in January; however, the typical pattern of self-monitoring during the holidays is not well established."

Self-monitoring is a common and effective strategy for weight loss, yet little is known about the factors that influence self-monitoring consistency in adults participating in a weight management program. In this study, several time-varying factors including time in a study and day of the week were found to be associated with individuals' dietary self-monitoring patterns. Factors that influence these variations warrant further investigation in order to identify methods and additional strategies to better understand and improve dietary self-monitoring adherence. For example, text messages, which have the ability to provide feedback, reminders, and encouragement to self-monitor in real-time, have shown promise in helping with and self-monitoring adherence. Based on this study's findings, providing these prompts on weekends may improve adherence to self-monitoring recommendations.

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

More information: "Daily and Seasonal Influences on Dietary Self-monitoring Using a Smartphone Application," Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior , DOI: 10.1016/j.jneb.2016.12.004

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 ...

Smartphones may aid in dietary self-monitoring

September 10, 2014
The ability and consistency in monitoring one's diet, but not dietary quality, improves with the use of smartphone applications, according to new research by Arizona State University health scientists published in the latest ...

Nut consumption linked to nutritionally rich food intake

September 26, 2017
(HealthDay)—Among overweight and obese women, nut consumption is associated with increased consumption of nutritionally rich foods and with reduced body mass index (BMI), according to a study published online Sept. 21 in ...

Shedding consistent pounds each week linked to long-term weight loss

August 28, 2017
When it comes to losing weight, it's not necessarily slow, but steady, that wins the race, according to new research from Drexel University.

Electronic devices with reminders make sticking to diets easier

June 5, 2012
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.

Frequently monitoring progress toward goals increases chance of success

October 28, 2015
If you are trying to achieve a goal, the more often that you monitor your progress, the greater the likelihood that you will succeed, according to research published by the American Psychological Association. Your chances ...

Recommended for you

Sweet, bitter, fat: New study reveals impact of genetics on how kids snack

February 22, 2018
Whether your child asks for crackers, cookies or veggies to snack on could be linked to genetics, according to new findings from the Guelph Family Health Study at the University of Guelph.

The good and bad health news about your exercise posts on social media

February 22, 2018
We all have that Facebook friend—or 10—who regularly posts photos of his or her fitness pursuits: on the elliptical at the gym, hiking through the wilderness, crossing a 10K finish line.

Smartphones are bad for some teens, not all

February 21, 2018
Is the next generation better or worse off because of smartphones? The answer is complex and research shows it largely depends on their lives offline.

Tackling health problems in the young is crucial for their children's future

February 21, 2018
A child's growth and development is affected by the health and lifestyles of their parents before pregnancy - even going back to adolescence - according to a new study by researchers at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute, ...

Lead and other toxic metals found in e-cigarette 'vapors': study

February 21, 2018
Significant amounts of toxic metals, including lead, leak from some e-cigarette heating coils and are present in the aerosols inhaled by users, according to a study from scientists at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public ...

Why teens need up to 10 hours' sleep

February 21, 2018
Technology, other distractions and staying up late make is difficult, but researchers say teenagers need to make time for 8-10 hours of sleep a night to optimise their performance and maintain good health and wellbeing.

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.