Study tests effectiveness of weight loss apps

Study tests effectiveness of weight loss apps

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by Erika Edwards / NBC News Channel

WCNC.com

Posted on April 22, 2011 at 10:50 AM

A new study shows that more than a quarter of Americans have dropped their land lines and rely solely on their cell phones.

But experts at Duke University say people are turning to their cell phones for more than communication; it's also a weight loss tool.

Since moving from Taiwan, Roger Hwang doesn't get nearly the amount of exercise he used to.

His eating habits have changed, too.

"I put on about 30 to 40 pounds in two years since I moved here," said Hwang.

That extra weight has translated into a problem with high cholesterol.

It's a concern at any age, but Roger is only 32-years-old.

He's not alone.

It's during those years between the ages of 18 and 35 that the majority of us gain weight.

"A lot of people leave home for the first time, live on their own for the first time," explained Dr. Laura Svetkey of Duke University Medical Center.

Duke University Medical Center researchers studying weight loss techniques decided to harness the power of something nearly everyone in that age group has: a cell phone.

Roger is part of a Duke study that's using specially programmed Android smart phones to help participants with their weight-loss goals.

When they step on a scale, the results are sent to their phone.

The phone then sends the participant weight-loss lifestyle tips and encouragement tailored to each person.

Some of the participants also get old-fashioned analog help: personal coaching from a human.

Researchers want to see whether the phone plus a human coach aids weight loss or whether the cell phone apps can stand alone.

In the end, researchers hope both techniques work.

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