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Founded in 1970 by the "Father of Aerobics"
Kenneth H. Cooper MD, MPH

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Apps to Make Change LASTING in 2014!

Written by
Today I Will TIW
Posted in
Eat better

Thursday, Jan 02, 2014

‘Tis the season of resolutions a large many of which are to “get healthier” or to “lose weight.” And to achieve these, many may turn to their mobile device for assistance. Search for “weight loss apps” at the iTunes App Store and almost 2,000 apps are available. Many of the apps provide the opportunity for individuals to track activity, or food intake, as well as set goals. However, are these strategies effective at changing behavior traits for sustained weight loss?

Behavioral weight loss strategies are reflected in evidence based lifestyle interventions. These types of strategies have been shown to be effective for weight loss and reduction of cardiovascular disease and diabetes (Pagoto, et al., 2013). Researchers have stated that “modern lifestyle modification programs have three main components: dietary recommendations, physical activity recommendations and cognitive-behavioral therapy (Grave, et al., 2013).” Effective behavioral strategies as identified by the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) (Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group, 2005) that embrace all three areas include:

  • Weight-loss goal creation of 1-2 pounds per week
  • Dietary goal creation for fat or calorie reduction
  • Calorie balance education
  • Physical activity goal creation of at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week
  • Exercise safety education on exertion levels and how to avoid injury
  • Benefits of healthy diet and physical activity education
  • Food substitution education to replace high fat or high caloric foods with better alternatives
  • Education on current food intake recommendations
  • Stimulus control to change food and activity cues
  • Portion control education
  • Lifestyle activity education on how to employ simple strategies like parking farther away
  • Target heart rate information on how to measure heart rate and suggested ranges
  • Problem solving solutions to overcome problems that inhibit success
  • Stress reduction solutions to prevent and cope with stress
  • Relapse prevention strategies to identify what causes slips from healthy behaviors
  • Negative thinking replacement approaches on how to replace negative thoughts with positive ones
  • Social cue identification and replacement tactics to replace negative with positive cues
  • Development of regular pattern of eating strategies
  • Time management strategies for fitting exercise into schedule
  • Nutrition label reading education
Looking for ways to implement the strategies of the DPP, apps may provide a great platform. Unfortunately, with the large number of apps, it can be difficult to navigate which apps employ the largest number of the above listed strategies. The study by Pagoto and colleagues analyzed the top 100 paid and top 100 free “health and fitness” categories of the iTunes and Android market. Based on their analysis, the top app employed 65% of the behavioral strategies. The next highest app utilized only 25% of the strategies.

The top app choices based on the percentage of strategies utilized in the app were:

  1. MyNetDiary Pro – iphone app – 65%
  2. MyNetDiary – iphone app – 65%
  3. All-in Fitness – iphone app – 25%
  4. Noom Weight Loss – Android app - 25%
  5. Calorie Counter and Diet Tracker – Android app – 20%
  6. Daily Burn – iphone app – 20%
  7. SparkPeople – iphone & Android app – 20%
We here at the Institute have created two behavioral based apps, although not evaluated by this study because they were only recently released, that include a large number of the strategies highlighted by the DPP and considering we are in this season of “resolutions,” may be of tremendous help!  Our CIFit app is designed for those trying to help others make healthy changes. It provides the most efficient and effective tools to help guide and inspire those on their wellness journey. Our Today I Will app is designed specifically for the individual trying to make healthy changes. Its goal is to meet individuals where they are with regard to changing an eating, moving, and/or living behavior and then based on this, provides targeted, science-based, behavioral strategies, tips and tools.

Traditionally, a “one-size-fits-all” approach has been used to help people make changes to their lifestyle and have typically been limited to deciding on what you want to change and then trying to change it without much planning or development of the skills needed to make such changes. Some success may be reached but typically the results are short-lived. The approach taken by Today I Will emphasizes planning and skill development so that changes made will be lasting—so that this year’s resolutions will become a reality! Both apps can be found by going to the store on your mobile device and downloading them for free.

Make change LASTING in 2014!

References

Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group. (2002). The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP): description of lifestyle intervention. Diabetes Care, 25(12): 2165-2171.

Grave, R., Centis, E., Marzocchi, R., et al. (2013). Major factors for facilitating change in behavioral strategies to reduce obesity. Physchology Res & Behavior Management, 6: 101-110.

Pagoto, S., Schneider, K., Jojic, M., et al. (2013). Evidence-based strategies in weight-loss mobile apps. Am J Prev Med, 45(5): 576-582.