9/30/2014

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Problem Solvers

Can an app really help you lose weight?

Can an app really help you lose weight?

'Tis the season for overeating, right? So is there an app to prevent that?

Maybe.

The KATU Problem Solvers enlisted two volunteers to test new weight loss applications that can not only help you during the holidays but all year round.

Our testers, Linda Wilson and Dianne Seymour, have a lot in common.  Both women are diabetic and struggle with weight.

"I have tried different things here and there, but nothing seems to help keep it off," says Wilson.

"Every time I go in (to the doctor)," says Seymour, "I know she's going to say you need to lose weight.”

For the past month, Seymour has been using www.myfitnesspal.com on her computer.  Wilson has been using www.caloriecount.com on her tablet.

For even more convenience, you can use these apps on your smartphone. Both programs are digital food diaries.  You can easily enter everything you eat.  The nutritional information - including calories, carbohydrates, protein and fats - is already in the system.

Calorie Count then gives you a grade for the day.

"Most of mine seem to be a C or D," admits Wilson, "because I eat so badly."

Seymour has found My Fitness Pal to be a little more encouraging.

"It comes up with this little sentence: if every day were like today, you'd be this weight in 5 weeks," explains Seymour.

Both apps give you bonus calories for any exercise you do.

The big advantage with My Fitness Pal is that the program calculates your daily calorie target using your age, weight loss goal and lifestyle.  Seymour's daily calorie goal:  1370.

With Calorie Count, Wilson chose the calorie total herself, 2500 calories.
"What really counts is what you do long term," says Dr. Bart Duell, an endocrinologist and director of the Metabolic Disorders Clinic at OHSU.

He says that studies show people who log what they eat are more likely to stay on track.  He believes these apps can be part accountant, part teacher, and part coach, but participants shouldn't go it alone.

"Whatever program or application people want to use, I think it's important for patients to check in with their physician and get their blessing as well, just to ensure that it's nothing too crazy or too weird," cautions Duell.

That's especially true when it comes to your daily calorie goal.

While neither Wilson nor Seymour has lost any weight in the last month, both feel empowered to continue their fights.

"That's really the motivation, the grandkids," says Seymour.  "I want to be here (for them)."

In addition to My Fitness Pal and Calorie Count, you can also check out:
     www.loseit.com
     www.mynetdiary.com
     www.sparkpeople.com

All the apps are recommended by Consumer Reports' Shopsmart magazine.

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