By Carol Guarino, CDE, RDN | December 10, 2018
There are many applications (apps) for our smartphones that encourage healthy eating and lifestyle through analysis of our food intake and activity level. With so many options out there, the question is, are they all valuable? Do these apps present evidence-based information about nutrition and exercise? Do they help improve eating habits and weight goals?
Presented here is a review on how to decide if an app is, in fact, beneficial in developing and reinforcing the nutritional goals we set with our patients along current apps that meet the criteria.
In the United States, 58 percent of all smartphone users have downloaded a mobile health app, with 47 percent of those using the app to track diet or weight loss goals. Studies show that those who use these apps report an increased adherence to diet and weight loss recommendations. In fact, one study complete by Carter et al., demonstrated on average a 10-pound weight loss over a six-month period for those engaged in app use.
In this fast-paced IT age, apps appear on the market at lightning speed. It’s important to remember that not all apps are created equal. A credible app should meet the following criteria:
- Provides evidence-based nutrition tips and educational offerings
- Has an extensive food log library
- Easy for patient to use
- Bar code scanning ability
- Third-party connectivity (i.e., connects to a Fitbit or Apple Watch)
- Allows the user to personalize goals
Based on these parameters, the following apps meet these criteria and may increase patient adherence to nutrition and exercise goals set while participating in a cardiac or pulmonary rehabilitation program.
As a clinician and health coach for your patients, try these applications yourself so you can speak to the effectiveness and demonstrate the use of each before you recommend.