Why The Majority Of Diet And Weight Loss Apps Are Useless

how effective are weight loss mobile appsOne of the biggest flaws of the various weight loss and diet apps for smartphones currently on the market is their poor functionality. The majority of them do not offer any assistance when it comes to behavioral strategies.

Most of the weight loss apps are just functional for tracking your physical activity, or the number of calories consumed, and for the most part, does an excellent job doing so.

However, calorie counting and calories burnt are just a small part of the weight losing process. One other important component is a program of execution, or an effective behavioral strategy that’s needed to help individuals get motivated to lose weight.

This situation is similar to asking someone to bake a pie by just giving them some flour and a pie pan and no recipe or ingredients. The failure of these apps are that they don’t provide any advanced strategies which directs or helps the user to potentially lose weight.

For instance, one of the most common problems of dieting is that most individuals just do not have the time to exercise. These apps don’t offer anything to help these individuals work through these “behavioral” issues, thus preventing them from achieving their dieting goals.

Where’s All The Important Data
There’s research which proves that the various “fitness” mobile apps on the market are not really much of a help or improvement to the traditional ways of losing weight.

Other studies have shown that dietary tracking while using a smartphone isn’t anymore effective when it comes to helping dieters eat less, than tracking their eating habits by writing them down on a piece of paper. Other studies confirmed these findings as well.

The basis of any behavioral modification when it comes to weight loss is building the proper motivation while helping the dieter solve their problems, which are potentially hindering their progress. So this should be the progression that next generation of apps for weight loss should be featuring.

These Apps Don’t Motivate
These mobile apps are currently limited in behavior programing, and they require external means of motivation as well as autonomy for the user. What these apps do is target just the obvious and nothing really that helpful.

Losing weight is a difficult process and the majority who go on diets will tell you that their biggest problem is motivation. The willpower to be able to stick to it for the long haul.

And if someone has the actual motivation to stick to their diet and exercise routine, then they will usually reach their weight loss goals with limited assistance. They will also most likely do so without the use of a mobile app.

Mobile Apps For Weight Loss
At this point, there’s an abundance of weight loss apps which are all similar, as they all seem to have the same functions. As a result, it’s become completely saturated to the point that the user has no idea which app actually works, and should be trying out.

Just one bad experience with a poorly working app can easily discourage the dieter from trying another one. No one wants to continuously enter what they ate that day, only for it to tell them what they should be eating next.

Poor Information That’s Inaccurate
Another problem is that the nutrition or the energy expenditure databases on some of the mobile apps are completely inaccurate. Most of the apps also don’t bother providing the source of their data, making it almost impossible to evaluate the accuracy of the information that’s provided.

For instance, during a recent test, a grilled cheese sandwich was used to see how many calories it contained using 3 different calorie counter apps. They all came up with completely different counts, ranging anywhere from 180 to 450 calories.

The results for how many calories were burnt doing a particular exercise were different as well. Riding a stationary bike for 25 minutes, for instance, turned up the calories burned ranging anywhere from 200 to 375 calories.

This type of information is important as you’d like to know exactly how many calories your burning or consuming when it comes to a specific weight loss program.


It’s a difficult thing to confront how much we actually eat, and how little calories we burn by exercising, so at the very least, the data from these apps should be accurate.

We’re also apt to completely believe that what these “apps” say are true as well, and true to what we want to hear. This type of information, accurate or not, reinforces our biases and will do a lot more harm than good. So these app developers need to invest their time in providing the most accurate information as possible.

Apps Need To Rely On User Data
The next generation of weight loss apps needs an accurate sensing technology which is adaptable to the specific users weight and body type.

There has been progress made when it comes to physical activity tracking, for instance, GPS and accelerometery technology is able to accurately track your whereabouts. But the technology is completely lacking when it comes to diet tracking.

Even if the information that’s provided is the actual macro-nutrient content of a particular diet, accurate sensors should be able to better detect the calories that we consume.

The technology could be significantly improved when it comes to weight loss in this area, by possibly inserting interventions before eating a meal.

This isn’t suggesting that all of the weight loss mobile apps which are currently available are completely useless for the dieter, but there are a lot of anecdotes from highly successful users.

This current crop of “weight loss” apps doesn’t have the technology of the science which is behavioral weight loss, when considering that mobile technology in other areas is advanced enough to do so. So it should hopefully be just a matter of time until that actually happens.

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