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Weight-Loss Apps Ineffective for Millennials, Study Finds

Update Date: Nov 16, 2015 05:13 PM EST

Despite the fact that millennials rely on their phones and tablets for almost everything, there is one thing that these smart devices do not help them with: losing weight.

In a new study, researchers from Duke University set out to examine the effectiveness of a low-cost, weight-loss app. The team recruited 365 overweight or obese people between the ages of 18 and 35 and randomly divided them into three groups. The first group was instructed to use an Android app that was designed by the researchers. The app helped the participants track calories, weight and physical activity levels, while providing help with weight-loss via a goal setting feature, social support and games.

The second group received six weekly weight-loss coaching sessions. The personal meetings were then followed up with monthly phone sessions. In this group, the "coach" encouraged but did not require the participants to use apps that can help them with weight-loss. The last group - the control group - was given three handouts that informed them about healthy lifestyle habits.

The team then monitored the participants' progress after half a year, one year and two years. They found that participants from group two initially lost the most weight in comparison to the other two groups at the six-month check up mark. After one and two years, however, the weight loss was not maintained. The researchers noted that participants in group one never lost more weight on average than the other two groups.

"Given the seeming power of cell phone apps and frankly the popularity of these health and fitness apps in the commercial world, we thought this might be a really good strategy to provide effective intervention very broadly and potentially at low cost," lead author Dr. Laura Svetkey said reported by MedicalXpress. "We know that in general, the more engaged people are in intervention, the more they're going to succeed from it. And so perhaps we need to rethink how to make a weight-loss intervention on your cell phone more engaging."

Obesity is a disease that can lead to so many other health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and stroke. In order to prevent these problems, researchers have been studying different ways that can potentially help overweight and obese people lose weight and keep it off.

The study's findings were published in the journal, Obesity.

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