Apps, computer games gaining traction as weight loss tools

Woman sitting with laptop computer on lap

Research on how technology-based behavioral training can impact eating decisions is spurring deeper study involving an app and a computer game aimed at reducing sugary foods intake and boosting weight loss.

The researchers of the study, published at ScienceDirect, found that computerized inhibitory control training (ICT) and mindful decision-making training (MDT) can stem junk food intake and boost better eating decisions. The study involved 119 salty snack food eaters using a smartphone-based ecological momentary assessment system.

“These results provide qualified support for the efficacy of both types of training for decreasing hedonically-motivated eating. Future research should investigate the additive benefit of de-atomization training to standard weight loss interventions,” the study's authors write.

That future research, as reported by DrexelNOW, is moving forward; two new studies are in the works based on the initial research findings.

One study will involve a computer training game, called DietDash, aimed at boosting self-control mechanisms regarding sugary food. The second uses an app, DietAlert, that works with the Weight Watcher’s app and was created with help from the Obesity Society. The app alerts users when they’re veering off diet plans and monitors eating habit patterns.

“Millions of people are trying to lose weight, and they are going about it in a reasonable way--by trying to reduce calories. But you’re going to slip from your diet plan. That pretty much happens to everyone,” Evan Forman, Ph.D., professor of psychology in Drexel's College of Arts and Sciences, told DrexelNOW. “You could say the secret of helping people actually lose weight is preventing these lapses, so we concentrated on how to best do that.”

As FierceMobileHealthcare has previosuly reported, mobile apps are growing in use by patients to help them better get a picture of their health. However, a study released earlier this year found that overall device adherence by both healthy patients and those managing chronic conditions drops over time due to device fatigue and the challenge of managing more than one device.

For more information:
- read the DrexelNOW article
- read the study published at ScienceDirect