Science Supports Health Tracking
- 2 Minutes Read
- Mar 19, 2019
Do you ever wonder if the time and effort you make to record your food, exercise and weight are worth it? A recently published study helps answer this questions for us.
Do you ever wonder if the time and effort you make to record your food, exercise and weight are worth it? Science says yes. So, if you are going to track, then what are some key factors to consider? A recent study published in the journal Obesity gives us some answers and adds to the accumulating evidence showing that self-monitoring plays a big role in successful weight management.
In the healthcare world, many of us recognize that self-monitoring plays an important role in successful weight loss, weight maintenance and managing any health-related pursuit, such as managing diabetes or blood pressure. Self-regulation theory tells us that self-monitoring is central to the process of changing habits and includes focused attention to some aspect of our behavior. It makes sense, right? If you want to be successful with anything in life, it takes focus and organization.
The good news is that electronic food, exercise and health trackers, like MyNetDiary, make it easier than ever to track in less time. When I worked in clinics and hospitals in the past, I would carry around paper copies of food and exercise diary sheets to give to my patients. For calorie tracking, a person would receive a calorie reference booklet and then look up items consumed in order to keep manual records. How far we have come! Electronic trackers make it so much easier to enter the data quickly with instant access to the nutrient content of foods as well as calories burned during exercise.
I love it when researchers make the effort to scientifically prove something so that we are not just relying on someone's opinion to guide us with best practices. And this is exactly what Harvey and research group did when they studied 142 participants in a 24-week, online behavioral weight-control program. Study participants recorded exercise minutes, food intake and weight, and the researchers were able to monitor the number of computer tracking entries made per day. The results give us more evidence to show that tracking does work! The purpose of their study "was to quantify the time spent and the daily frequency of self-monitoring necessary for weight-loss success".
Key findings from their study:
This recently published study adds to other evidence about how tracking is important for weight management. Peterson and group examined "the contributions of frequency, consistency and comprehensiveness of dietary self-monitoring to long-term weight change." They looked at 234 participants in a one-year weight maintenance program that followed a six-month weight loss intervention. Key findings from their study are:
Another 2011 systematic review of 22 studies found that: