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Mobile App and Classes Help Obese People Lose Weight

Feet on bathroom scale (


Researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago and four other institutions found a mobile app that tracks eating and activity, combined with classroom sessions, helped people at a weight loss clinic lose weight and keep it off for at least a year. The findings of Northwestern professor of preventive medicine Bonnie Spring and colleagues appear online in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

The study, a randomized clinical trial, tested a mobile app to record food and calorie intake, as well as record exercise activty. In addition, the app provides feedback to users, showing their food/calorie intake and exercise compared to goals set in advance in consultation with a weight-loss coach.

The subjects were 69 participants at a veterans weight-loss clinic, who were randomly divided between those who received the loan of personal digital assistant with the mobile app plus the classroom sessions, compared to those who attended classes only. The participants were mainly men with an average age of 58.

Participants using the mobile devices transmited their data to a behavioral coach, who monitored their information and provided scheduled telephone coaching for 10 to 15 minutes about twice monthly. Participants in classes only, with no mobile device, recorded their eating and activity on paper.

The results show people who used the personal digital assistant and attended 80 percent of the educational sessions lost 15 pounds and maintained the loss for one year. The average weight loss for the mobile phone group overall, which included some participants who did not attend the education sessions, was 8.6 pounds. Participants who attended the education sessions, but did not have a mobile device or app, did not show a loss in weight.

Spring considers the role of the coaches as critical in the results achieved with the mobile app. “The patients know the coaches are hovering and supportively holding them accountable,” says Spring. “They know somebody is watching and caring and that’s what makes a difference.”

“We can help people lose meaningful amounts of weight and keep it off,” Spring adds. “To do that we need to engage them in tracking their own eating and activity, learn how that governs weight, and take advantage of social support.”

The team directed by Spring included colleagues from Northwestern University, as well as medical researchers and social scientists from University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, University at Buffalo in New York, and University of Illinois at Chicago.

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1 comment to Mobile App and Classes Help Obese People Lose Weight

  • Thanks for this post! Personally, I think one
    of the easiest and best ways to lose weight or to be fit is to find a fun way of doing your workout.
    Doing things like taking my dog for a walk or in a nearby mountain area can be a nice change of pace.
    Whatever can be done to vary things is much better than doing the same
    old thing.

    Likewise, simply dieting or starving yourself isn’t going to last if you want to lose weight quickly. If you really want to start losing weight you need to go out and find food that is healthy but also tastes good so that you will associate eating healthy with something that also tastes great.

    Thanks for taking the time to write all of this. I am always looking for new ways to stay fit and lost weight. There are a lot of people that this is going to help!

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