A new study finds that people who want to keep a food diary during their weight loss process should ditch paper diaries and go for smartphones because they have a lot more to offer.
On November 8 at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions meeting, the researchers said that an important aspect of trying to lose weight is tracking the foods you eat.
Lora Burke, lead author of the study and a professor of nursing and epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh, said that self-monitoring can be the most important mediator for weight loss.
The findings showed that people tended to be more diligent when they used their smartphones to track the foods that they consumed, compare with when they used other methods, like writing everything down in a paper diary.
In the study, the researchers looked at data on food diary use from two studies that had been conducted previously. Participant in the studies were separated into three different groups, each group using a different food monitoring method: smartphones, paper diaries, and personal digital assistants (PDAs).
The researchers compared how well the participant followed their food monitoring programs over the course of six months.
According to Burke, if the participants recorded at least half of their calories every day, they were considered ‘devoted’ or ‘adherent’ to the monitoring programs.
Over time, the adherence of people decreased in all three groups. However, the researchers found that in the last week of the study, the smartphone users would still record their daily calories about sixty-two percent of the time, as opposed to thirty-four percent of those who used paper diaries, and fifty-one percent of those who used personal digital assistants.
Participants in the paper diary group tended to lose interest much faster than those in the other two groups, the researchers also found.
Smartphones diaries are a lot more interactive and user-friendly, and they sometimes even give feedback, encouraging people who use them, which is why these types of diaries are the most effective.
On the other side of the spectrum, paper diaries can sometimes be conspicuous and time-consuming, Burke concluded.
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