It’s Not Just Logging Food. It’s How You Log Too 19 April 2013
A recent study by scientists at the University of Leeds found an interesting correlation among weight loss and food journaling. This particular study wasn’t looking at whether or not logging food was beneficial for losing weight, as has already been proven by many multi-year scientific studies. This study sought to understand if how a person logged foods while dieting mattered — and it does seem to matter.
The study enlisted 128 overweight volunteers (by their own admission, mostly white professional women) split into three groups, with each group using a different monitoring method. One group was provided a mobile app to map their eating habits and calorie intake. A second group recorded foods via a website, and the third group used the old standard — pen and paper.
For six months these three groups recorded what they ate. No nutrition planning, human input, or diet advice was given to the volunteers during the trial, and each group held a large degree of “self-monitoring” of their eating behavior.
The group using a smartphone app (it was not a MyNetDiary app) was sent a weekly update on progress via text message and was able to set a target weight. The app was used, on average, every other day during the six months. Users of the website and the paper journal logged foods, on average, just once a week.
As a result, the smartphone app group lost an average of 10 lbs. over the course of the study, compared to 6.5 lbs. lost with paper journaling and 3 lbs. lost while logging online. More interesting, perhaps, is the retention rate of the volunteers during the study. 93 percent of the smartphone app users stuck with the trial for the entire six months. However, only 55% of users stuck with logging foods online, and 53% stuck with logging foods in their paper journals.
How interesting that mobile calorie tracker users not only lost more weight, but they were also more diligent in recording their behavior, and they did it more frequently — logging about every other day, which was three times more frequently than the other two groups.
It would be interesting to note what effects would have surfaced if each of the groups were educated about weight loss, encouraged one another within their groups, or shared their progress along the way. Nevertheless, it seems that the mobile calorie counter is useful for losing weight.
What do you think? And what do you use more often, the MyNetDiary mobile apps or website?
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