Weight management apps

Mobile apps that encourage positive lifestyle changes such as healthy eating and increased physical activity have the potential to help users maintain long-term weight control.

Deciding on a suitable weight loss app - help me choose

While there are a growing number of apps to assist weight loss, very few are credible. A study assessing the quality of mobile apps for weight management examined the presence of the following evidence-based strategies (Rivera J et al, 2016)1:

  • self-monitoring capabilities which enable users to track parameters over time, such as weight, meals, nutrition (including protein, fats, carbohydrates, fiber, and water), physical activity, cardiometabolic indicators, sleep, mental health indicators, including mood, thought patterns, cognitions, and stress, environmental influences, and custom metrics
  • goal-setting with or without customization, such as weight loss goals, calorie balance goals, water intake goals, and physical activity goals
  • healthy eating support such as healthy eating guidelines, meal plans, calorie balance goals, and nutritional information for specific foods
  • physical activity support such as  fitness plans, exercise guides, and tracking of daily physical activity
  • social support such as online communication with other users
  • weight and health assessment, with or without personalization such as BMI assessment
  • motivational strategies including prompts, rewards, or gamified design
  • personalized feedback such as through virtual meetings with a health coach or through notifications.

The study concluded that despite the abundance of mobile apps for weight management, the evidence-based quality of these apps remains generally poor. Very few apps included one or more of the above strategies. In addition, most apps do not involve health care experts in their development process, and have not undergone rigorous scientific testing. 

App reviews: weight loss apps

The following weight loss apps have been reviewed.

App name Description Clinical score
Calorie Counter

  • Calorie counter with food database
  • Weight tracking
  • Free recipes
  • Available from Google Play and iTunes
  • Cost: free
  • Read more about Calorie Counter
Fat Burning & Weight Loss

  • Guided relaxation
  • Education and information
  • Available from Google Play
  • Cost: free; paid upgrade for ads free version
  • Read more about Fat Burning & Weight Loss
Noom Coach

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  • Calorie counting with food database
  • Weight tracking
  • Integration with fitness tools
  • Personalisation
  • Available from Google Play and iTunes
  • Cost: free
  • Read more about Noom Coach
Monitor Your Weight

Monitor your weight icon

  • Weight tracking
  • Graphs
  • Personalisation features
  • Multiple profiles
  • Non-obtrusive ads
  • Available from Google Play and iTunes
  • Cost: free
  • Read more about Monitor Your Weight
MyFitnessPal

 

  • Calorie counting with food database
  • Weight tracking
  • Integration with fitness tools
  • Community
  • Personalisation
  • Available from Google Play and iTunes
  • Cost: free
  • Read more about MyFitnessPal
Weight Loss Tracker

 

  • Weight tracking with graphs
  • BMI calculator
  • Available from Google Play and iTunes
  • Cost: free
  • Read more about Weight Loss Tracker
My Diet Coach

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  • Calorie counting through food and exercise
  • Personalisation
  • Reminders
  • Minimal ads
  • Available from Google Play and iTunes
  • Cost: free (premium version on subscription basis)
  • Read more about My Diet Coach
Excluded apps

  • Effective Weight Loss Guide (naveeninfotech): the terms and words used in this app seem judgmental such as referring to the user as fat and/or lazy. The safety of some of the tips or suggestions are concerning as they do not appear to be evidence-based. The app developers did not appear to include anyone with a background in nutrition research, dietitians or public health professionals.
  • Sworkit : credit card details were needed before users could get a free trial of the app.

References

  1. Rivera J, McPherson A, Hamilton J, Birken C, et al. Mobile Apps for Weight Management: A Scoping Review. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2016 Jul 26;4(3):e87.
Credits: Editorial team. Last reviewed: 23 Apr 2019