If you want to lose weight but don’t want to spend a ton of money doing so, you might want to consider a free phone app as a potential option. Recent research shows that people can lose a meaningful amount of weight after learning how to modify their behavior from their own phones.
An October 2018 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine analyzed obese patients who were using the Track app to monitor behavior changes such as food intake, water consumption, and daily exercise. (Although the study didn't specify the makers of the app, there's a free app called Track by Nutritionix available for iPhones and Androids.) Throughout the study, doctors and dietitians followed up with these patients via coaching calls. After a year’s time, results showed that patients who used the app and received the encouraging calls fared better than a control group who got standard care from doctors without the help of Track.
Among the patients using Track, 43 percent lost more than 5 percent of their body weight by the time the study was complete. These participants also saw their blood pressure and waist sizes decrease. Furthermore, 56 percent of Track participants lost at least 3 percent of their body weight, which doctors consider to be a healthy amount when it comes to ultimate weight-loss success.
As if these results weren’t exciting enough, this study is also among the first to report successful weight loss within a low-income population. Experts have said this group of people has been challenging to treat, so it’s encouraging to know that there are great weight-loss options for people regardless of how much money they make.
"Most of what we know about obesity treatment is based on people who are reasonably healthy and highly motivated to lose weight," said lead author Gary Bennett, PhD, in a press release. "We've shown an ability to promote clinically meaningful weight loss among patients who need help the most, those with low motivation who already have the health risks associated with obesity."
It’s also worth noting that the study took place in a rural area, so researchers say the results suggest that digital weight-loss treatments — such as apps — might help close the gap between obesity care in big cities and small towns.
"Digital treatments allow us to reach into the most remote settings to deliver high-quality care," said Dr. Bennett. "Expanding broadband services to all Americans should be a public health priority."
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