Smartphone apps that track exercise, calories and weight loss goals may not be enough for young adults to lose weight, according to new study from the US.The study by researchers at the Duke University , North Carolina, USA, offers an insight into the complexities of weight loss and potential limitations of an app-based approach. The inexpensive and easily accessed tool was aimed at tech-savvy adults ages 18-35.“Thirty five percent of this age group is overweight or obese and that’s a huge public health problem,“ said lead author Laura P Svetkey , professor of medicine at the Duke University School of Medicine, adding, “We thought that because this is an age group that is most engaged in technology , it might be possible to intervene and prevent future problems like cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and diabetes while they are still developing their lifestyle habits.“
The randomised study included 365 people ages 18 to 35 who were overweight or obese.One group of participants used an app designed exclusively for the study . Like many commercially available cell phone apps, this one could be used to track calorie intake, activity and weight loss goals and also offered weight loss tips and opportunities to connect with other users for social support. On average, participants who used the app lost about one kilo after two years no more than participants in a control group that received paper handouts about exercise and nutrition.In a separate arm of the study , participants received personal coaching from a weight loss coach a model of behavioural intervention that some studies have shown to be more effective but costly, Svetkey said. Coaches met with participants weekly for six weeks and then followed up with monthly phone meetings.Members of the coached group lost more weight on average than both the control group and the cell phone group about three-and-a-half kilos after 12 months, compared to about roughly two kilos in the control group. But after two years, there was no sign that either using a cell phone app or a personal coach was any more effective than getting a paper flier about weight loss.
Source: TOI 07 Nov’2015