Do Weight-Loss Apps Work?


The convenience of weight-loss apps has captured the minds of many folks trying to shed some pounds.  But, is this form of tech support truly aiding weight-loss?  A recent study may surprise you.

Some popular apps such as Livestrong and FitBit offer hope for diet and fitness success and provide great tools such as calorie counts for foods as well as occasional support reminders to get active.  Research from the American Journal of Medicine, however, discovered that digital tools may not be as effective as old-school diet and exercise programs.


The research team compared the top 30 weight-loss apps on iTunes and the Android Market with 20 behavior-based strategies like stress reduction and portion control.  In other words, they researched the effectiveness of 30 apps Vs. 20 behavior-based techniques.  93% of the apps included just 5 or fewer lifestyle-based strategies, which do not translate into effective weight-loss for the apps because behavioral methods, such as those provided in Your Eating Solution, have been shown to be effective in scientific study.

The major shortcoming with apps is that they do not include features that help users stay with a program long-term.  Without long-term strategies, the lifestyle changes do not become permanent real-life changes that are essential to real success with diet and exercise.

At the same time, I still like the apps as a supportive tool for health programs and recommend that clients use them in conjunction with other aspects of their health program.  Apps are convenient and do incorporate some proven weight-loss strategies, most notably food journaling, which ensures accountability and enhances diet awareness that is important for making progress towards weight loss goals.

About Dave Barnas, M.S., CES, NASM-CPT

Dave is the true health guy. He is the founder and owner of True Health Unlimited, LLC, a personal health and fitness company in Tolland, CT & Wellness Writers, a subscription wellness newsletter service that incorporates live & virtual wellness workshops for companies across New England. Dave earned both a Bachelor's (1998) and Master's Degree (2000) in Nutritional Science from the University of Connecticut, and also holds certifications as a National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Personal Trainer, National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist, Aerobics and Fitness Association of America Group Instructor, and Nutrition Specialist. He's also the lead author for four published works. Dave has over 20 years of combined experience in nutrition counseling, dietary supplement advising, personal training, corrective exercise training, health coaching and public speaking. In addition, he's spent over 25 years studying spirituality, meditation, and personal growth strategies. Dave's clients are all ages: youth, college championship level athletes, folks in their retired years, and everywhere in between. He's worked with three of the nation's leading physicians as a dietary supplement advisor and been a guest lecturer at Harvard University, Yale University, UConn, St. Joseph College and various church groups, health clubs, and high schools. In 2013, he was invited to Whole Foods Market to share his Real Food Therapy Guide. And in 2015, Dave's funny "Snowga" (yoga in the snow) video caught the attention of The National Weather Channel, who aired it to shake off cabin fever and bring laughter. In 2016, Dave & Hollie (his wife) founded Wellness Writers and deliver evidence-based Wellness E-newsletters to spread a message of health and happiness to various businesses throughout the US. Dave currently serves as a personal trainer in Tolland as well as a wellness coach and writer for several businesses, gyms and wellness facilities throughout the US.

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