Losing Weight With Apps
Can a phone app help you lose weight? How about with your cholesterol, blood pressure, or waist size?
Perhaps you've heard the latest Noom ads, where they boast forty publications showing that their app will help you lose weight.
Apple is coming out with more ways to have their new watch track your heart rate and steps, with apps even looking at your yoga workout and eventually telling your blood glucose.
Episode Sponsor: Modifyhealth.com
What the Studies Show
A recent meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials showed that the average weight loss in the first three months was slightly below five pounds (2.18 kg).
Unfortunately, the weight loss didn't last. Nine months later, they had regained a pound and a half for a total loss of 3.5 pounds (1.63 kg).
Blood Pressure, Cholesterol, and Calories
There was a slight improvement in blood pressure at three months. But cholesterol and total energy intake, as well as waist circumference and blood glucose, remained the same.
The Proliferation of Apps
There are over 500,000 applications on Android and Apple phones to track various health data points. In addition, there are other devices just measuring fitness. The theory of measuring fitness behaviors with calorie tracking to provide feedback to improve health is appealing.
Many Apps With Poor Quality
Many apps had a lack of behavioral coaching and poor quality of scientific information. Tracking over a three-day period found that the accuracy of energy intake among apps was only fair in terms of total calories and amounts of macro- and micronutrients.
What About Noom
Noom is one of the more popular paid apps. They boast over 40 peer-reviewed articles. A quick glance at the articles showed some surprising flaws:
One article compared Noom in pancreatic cancer patients to a control group who received no coaching.
Another article used Noom data for their references.
Article after article that Noom sites are little more than using Noom's data without dropout rates.
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Chew HSJ, Koh WL, Ng JSHY, Tan KK. Sustainability of Weight Loss Through Smartphone Apps: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis on Anthropometric, Metabolic, and Dietary Outcomes. J Med Internet Res. 2022 Sep 21;24(9):e40141. doi: 10.2196/40141. PMID: 36129739; PMCID: PMC9536524.
Keum J, Chung M, Kim Y, Ko H, Sung M, Jo J, Park J, Bang S, Park S, Song S, Lee H
Usefulness of Smartphone Apps for Improving Nutritional Status of Pancreatic Cancer Patients: Randomized Controlled Trial JMIR Mhealth Uhealth 2021;9(8):e21088 URL: https://mhealth.jmir.org/2021/8/e21088 DOI: 10.2196/21088
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