You Don't Need a Diet to Lose Weight — Just an App

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Before you sign-up for yet another costly weight-loss program, you should know: People who track food intake using free smartphone apps can drop a significant number of pounds, according to a study in the online journal JMIR mHealth and uHealth.

Researchers at Duke University confirm that weight-loss apps, which have been shaping the way Americans manage their weight for a number of years, work really well on their own — without other expensive and time-consuming programs. Their study involved 105 people between 21 and 65 who were divided into three groups.

One group used a free app to record their food intake every day for three months. The second group tracked their weight for one month and weight and food for two months and received weekly emails with tips and feedback and nutrition and behavior modification sessions on reducing sugar intake and controlling portions. The third group used the same app to record their weight and food for three months and got email feedback and weekly nutrition and behavior modification lessons.

The end result: Weight loss was similar in all three groups, ranging from about 5 to just over 6 pounds, on average, at the end of three months. According to the Duke researchers, those who kept close tabs on what they put in their mouth saw the best results.