Quarantine weight gain bringing you down? You may want to turn to tech for help. An analysis published in the journal Obesity in February 2021 suggests that if you use digital tools to log what you eat, when you exercise, or how much you weigh, you’re likely to crush your weight loss goals — at least temporarily.
Researchers examined results from 39 clinical trials that followed more than 8,000 adults with overweight or obesity to see whether using digital self-monitoring tools aided weight loss. These tools were based on a variety of platforms — examples included websites, apps, wearables, smart scales, and text messaging — and encouraged users to record a variety of variables including weight, exercise, food intake, and calories.
Across all the trials in this analysis, consistent use of digital self-monitoring tools was associated with weight loss 74 percent of the time. This success rate didn’t change much with the type of tool people used or which types of weight-related outcomes they tracked. But people did appear to be more engaged with tracking consistently when they used digital tools than when they used pen and paper.
“At the end of the day, any form of recording can help people lose weight,” says the lead study author, Michele Patel, PhD, a researcher in cardiovascular disease prevention at Stanford University School of Medicine in California.
“However, we found that digital tools like apps and websites often keep people engaged for longer, which often translates to more weight loss,” Dr. Patel says.