Your smartphone may make it easier for you to lose weight by providing access to new apps which contain exercise logs and nutritional databases, a new study suggests.

Researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia have found that information technology, such as smartphone apps, can help dieters integrate healthy behavior changes into their daily lives.

“Current weight loss recommendations are essentially the same as they were decades ago, but each generation has to learn how to manage modern challenges to healthy living,” said Cheryl Shigaki, an associate professor in the MU School of Health Professions.

“Information technology repackages traditional weight loss strategies and provides new tools, such as exercise logs and nutritional databases, to implement that knowledge,” said Shigaki.

According to Shigaki, prior research on weight loss programming has shown that social and informational supports are important for individuals’ dieting success, along with learning skills for self-management, problem-solving and behaviour change.?Smartphone apps can increase access to information, and people generally are willing to explore many different weight loss applications, Shigaki said.

“When people use information technology to support their weight-loss efforts, they tend to access features that streamline the tracking of daily health behaviors, such as caloric intake and exercise, or that provide visual feedback on their overall progress, like graphs showing weight lost over time,” Shigaki said.

“Self-monitoring is key to successful weight loss, and information technology can make these tasks more convenient. We also found that people really like getting feedback on their progress, which motivated them and helped them better evaluate their health behaviours and plan for future success,” said Shigaki.

Shigaki also studied individuals’ perceptions of IT-based social support during weight loss programmes and found that in-person social support was overwhelmingly preferred to creating new, online social networks based on common interests in wellness.

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