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Do Weight Management Apps Really Help?

Do Weight Management Apps Really Help?

When we say LeBron James and Steph Curry are super-great basketball players—the stats back us up! In Game 1 of the 2016 NBA playoffs, James became first player to rank in the top 10 in points, assists, rebounds and wins in NBA playoff history. Curry? His career total of three pointers as of June 2, 2016, was 1,593, surpassing James’s total of 1,343.

But when apps proclaim they’ll help you lose weight or prevent weight gain—well, no reliable stats back up those claims.

According to researchers at the European Obesity Summit, only 17 of 3,013 weight-management apps (downloaded more than 666,169,136 times) were developed by a certified health organization or university. And no published studies present evidence of effectiveness for weight-loss or weight-gain prevention apps, such as the popular fitbit, my fitness pal and Noom weight-loss coach.

Should you try ‘em?  It takes a sustained commitment to enter your diet and activity info into the app, calculate calories eaten and burned, and utilize other features. With such discipline, you’re probably going to be a successful weight manager with or without an app. But what if those digital tasks are discouraging and you stop trying to manage your weight? You might do better with a real fitness pal to walk with (and hug!), a good pedometer (they’re accurate) and a food journal to write in nightly.

So test out an app, but remember you’re in charge, not that dubious digital dictator, and you can choose what works best for your weight-management goals.

Medically reviewed in February 2019.

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