Smart Phones and Dietary Tracking: A Feasibility Study

  • Cunningham B
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Abstract

Dietary self-monitoring has been shown to be a predictor of weight loss success and is a prevalent part of behavioral weight control programs. As more weight loss applications have become available on smartphones, this feasibility study investigated whether the use of a smartphone application, or a smartphone memo feature would improve dietary self-monitoring over the traditional paper-and-pencil method. The study also looked at whether the difference in methods would affect weight loss. Forty-seven adults (BMI 25 to 40 kg/m 2 ) completed an 8-week study focused on tracking the difference in adherence to a self-monitoring protocol and subsequent weight loss. Participants owning iPhones (n=17) used the 'Lose It' application (AP) for diet and exercise tracking and were compared to smartphone participants who recorded dietary intake using a memo (ME) feature (n=15) on their phone and participants using the traditional paper-and-pencil (PA) method (n=15). There was no significant difference in completion rates between groups with an overall completion rate of 85.5%. The overall mean adherence to self-monitoring for the 8-week period was better in the AP group than the PA group (p = .024). No significant difference was found between the AP group and ME group (p = .148), or the ME group and the PA group (p = .457). Weight loss for the 8 week study was significant for all groups (p = .028). There was no significant difference in weight loss between groups. Number of days recorded regardless of group assignment showed a weak correlation to weight loss success (p = .068). Smartphone owners seeking to lose weight should be encouraged by the potential success associated with dietary tracking using a smartphone app as opposed to the traditional paper-and-pencil method.

Author-supplied keywords

  • 0384:Behavioral psychology
  • 0570:Nutrition
  • Behavioral psychology
  • Dietary tracking
  • Health and environmental sciences
  • Nutrition
  • Obese
  • Overweight
  • Psychology
  • Self-monitoring
  • Smartphone
  • Weight loss

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Authors

  • Barbara Cunningham

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