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Weight Loss Apps are a Waste of Money

Update Date: Oct 09, 2013 01:55 PM EDT

With technology advancing so much over the past few years, people now have access to many different apps on multiple devices. Many of these apps have been designed to make life easier by providing services at a faster rate. For example, people can bank on their phones, which saves them time from having to go to the actual bank. One popular category of apps is health and fitness. These apps provide tips on staying fit or on how to lose weight. Even though these apps might appear to be a good idea at first, a new study is reporting that weight loss apps do not work and are a waste of money.

In this new report, researchers analyzed the effects of apps such as Daily Burn, Livestrong, FitBit and Weight Watchers. These apps help with weight loss by giving users calorie counts for foods and information on how to lose them. For example, these apps will inform the user how long he or she will have to walk briskly to lose a certain amount of calories. Even though these apps sound good and helpful, the researchers found that these digital weight loss tactics are ineffective.

In total, the research team looked at the 30 most popular weight loss apps that were either free or paid. The apps, available on iTunes and the Android Market, used 20 behavior-based strategies to help with weight loss. These strategies included portion control, education about eating and why people might overeat and stress reduction. These lifestyle and behavior-based strategies have been proven to help with weight loss significantly. However, the researchers found that of the 30 apps they looked at, 28 of them consisted of 25 percent or fewer behavior-based methods.

"In my practice we use the traditional food journal, and about 95 percent of patients that use the journal will lose weight," commented Dr. J. Shah, a bariatric physician and medical director of Amari Medical located in New York.

The researchers from the University of Massachusetts Medical School reported that these apps are ineffective because they do not use any features to help people stay with the weight loss routines every day. If people are not using the apps in the long-term, they will most likely not experience any changes in their bodies, eating habits and exercise levels.

In order for these digital weight loss techniques to be more effective, they need to incorporate more detailed strategies and find a way to keep users' motivation levels high. The study was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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