Mobile Applications Can Help Users Achieve Sustained Weight-loss

Yukta Kulkarni ’22

Figure 1: A scale, tape-measure, and an apple are items representing a healthful diet and healthy, sustained weight-loss.

In the United States, obesity is an urgent issue, with more than 40% of Americans in 2017-2018 suffering from this disease, according to the CDC. Obesity can lead to other severe illnesses such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Thus, efforts to reduce the prevalence of obesity must be taken to improve population health. Diet and exercise aid in losing weight; however, those who lose weight by these means often gain it back after a year, putting greater stress on their cardiovascular systems. Hu et al. performed an observational study to determine the efficacy of a digital nutrition platform in bringing about sustainable weight loss by measuring weight loss in clinically obese participants after 12, 24, and 36 months.

This study utilized the FoodsmartTM application, which contains a questionnaire on eating habits (called Nutriquiz) and a component that helps users decide what foods to purchase (called FoodSmart). 1,740 adults with obesity participated by reporting their weight at least three times, with at least a month between weight reports. They were then categorized into three classes based on BMI to determine if sustained weight loss had occurred. Sustained weight loss was defined by the loss of at least 5% of their initial weight, then either remaining at that weight or losing additional  weight. Additionally, participants’ dietary consumption was self-reported through the app, and they received a score between 0 (not optimal) to 10 (optimal) indicating the level of nutrition of their meals in terms of fruit, vegetable, protein, carbohydrate, fat, sodium, and hydration content. 

It was found that around 22.4% of all participants had sustained weight loss. Of those who continued their enrollment on the app for >12, >24, and >36 months, 21.7%, 22.8%, and 23.8% consistently experienced sustained weight loss, respectively. Furthermore, 25-30% of those in BMI classes 2 and 3, and those who increased their diet quality experienced sustained weight loss. This suggests that BMI class and Nutriscore (score on the Nutriquiz) are associated with higher chances of experiencing sustained weight loss. These predictors and Foodsmart’s ability to provide personalized meal plans can encourage individuals to continue with their weight-loss initiatives, helping to achieve healthier lifestyles. 

Works Cited:

[1] Obesity is a common, serious, and costly disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (2021).

[2] E. Hu, et. al., Sustaining weight loss among adults with obesity using a digital meal planning and food purchasing platform for 12, 24, and 36 months: A longitudinal study. Nutrition Journal 20, 8 (2021). Doi: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12937-021-00666-9

[3] Image retrieved from: https://pixy.org/5821666/ 

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