Healthcare Technology Featured Article

January 04, 2013

Diet Pill Maker Backs Technology, Says Smartphone Apps Help with Weight Loss



With New Year’s Resolutions in high gear, now’s a better time than ever to talk about weight loss. Most gyms are filled and buzzing with members who never really walk through the door at other times of the year and only donate their monthly fees (Ahemm…) as well as new sign-ups excited and motivated to stick to their weight loss resolutions they made just days ago.

However, gyms will most likely become more vacant and back to their typical user base in just a few months – because lack of time issues, lack of motivation, and a laundry list of other reasons and excuses people make to not keep up with their health.

Today, with technology and in particular mobile apps – an easier way to stay on track, remind and motivate users about weight loss, has surfaced.

Everything from apps where you log in each piece of food you eat, to daily workout tips and schedules as well as award-based systems that keep you motivated to beat your friends in healthy activities, have all become a part of the mainstream mobile app market place.

To further solidify this claim, a maker of diet pills has now stepped up to the plate in support of the use of mobile health apps to aide in weight loss.

The makers of Hydroxycut, a weight-loss supplement brand in America, is encouraging users to not only combine a healthy mix of eating well and exercise to lose weight, but notes the importance of creating new habits that become part of the user’s lifestyle to really be successful with weight loss. Mobile Apps are offering a way to do just that. 

Image via ShutterStock

Responding to articles printed in both the Arizona Daily Sun and the Boston Globe, which focused on research findings about the success of mobile apps for health and fitness, Hydroxycut officials said, "When it comes to pursuing a healthier lifestyle, individuals will have to make long-term changes that sometimes diet plans are not able to enforce. However, as these articles have shown, there are many smartphone apps that may help individuals develop habits that will help them form a greater commitment to well-being."

According to one of the research findings from Pew Research Center, "19 percent of smartphone owners have at least one health app on their devices - with exercise, diet, and calorie-counting programs the most popular."

Another study published in Archives of Internal Medicine looked at the effectiveness of mobile apps for improved health and found that participants did in fact have more success even after a coaching program when they also had mobile apps to use because they were empowered to check up on themselves as far as their daily calorie intake, how much physical activity they had done and adjust as needed for continued weight loss.

Company officials said these mobile apps are especially beneficial when one uses a food and activity tracker to take responsibility for their efforts as well as to provide solid data that can be reviewed and tweaked to achieve success.

Earlier this year, I caught up with Rachel Berman, director of nutrition for CalorieCount.com to talk about the criteria involved in successful mobile weight loss apps.

According to Berman, these apps should include 3 main things:

An extensive food database. If the app doesn’t have the foods you’re eating, you won’t be able to accurately track your calorie and nutrient intake.

Community support. Weight loss is more successful with support and having a strong, vibrant community provides the motivation to stick with healthy habits.

 Detailed nutrition analysis. Calories are important but so is getting enough of the right types of foods for your health.

Mike Basone, president and chief technology officer of WeightWatchers.com, told me in an exclusive interview back in 2010 that smartphone applications were also a major focus for the company as a communications channel to customers. In addition to a new fresh way of accessing information, the mobile channel extended the company’s brand value proposition by allowing customers to use their offering whenever and wherever they would like.

“We know, through extensive research, that the more engaged a customer is with our plan, the more they track and the more successful their weight loss. Mobile gives our customers the opportunity to stay engaged and accountable,” Basone said.

The good news – while someone may shell out lots of cash to be part of a gym, these mobile apps are for the most part pretty affordable, and some are even free – so the excuses to not stick to this New Year’s Resolution no longer hold true.




Edited by Brooke Neuman




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