A smartphone app that helps users lose weight by recording their food consumption has been developed by researchers at the University of Liverpool.
The weight-loss smartphone app was created in response to research from the University's Institute of Psychology, Health and Society that showed people who pay close attention to what they eat tend to consumer fewer calories.
The smartphone app was tested on 12 overweight and obese participants seeking to lose pounds. The researchers found the study participants lost an average of 3.5 pounds over a four-week period by tracking their food intake using the app.
"Data suggested that overweight and obese participants in our four-week trial used the application regularly, personalized the application based on their daily routine, and were able to use the three main functions of the application," said Eric Robinson, M.D., who developed the application.
"Raising awareness of eating and weight loss achieved suggest this approach could be fruitful …Given that our trial was a very brief intervention with little contact time and no nutritional advice or support, this is a promising finding."
The smartphone weight-loss app allows users photograph the food and drink they are about to consume, then answer questions about their meal after they’ve eaten. The smartphone app also asks if they finished the entire meal and feel full — questions designed to get users to focus on what they eat, which can boost weight loss.
The app also provides an interactive slide show of images of everything they have consumed and photographed every day day. After viewing these images, users are reminded to eat attentively and to photograph their next meal.
Dr. Robinson said researchers now plan to test the device on a wider group of individuals to determine if the smartphone app can indeed boost weight loss.
"Our study introduces a new attentive eating approach aimed at reducing dietary intake and promoting weight loss, supported by theoretical models of the role of memory on energy intake regulation,” he explained. “Results suggest that a simple smartphone based intervention based on these principles is feasible and could promote healthier dietary practices."
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