254635 Dietary self-monitoring, but not dietary quality, improves with use of smartphone ‘app' technology

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 : 9:30 AM - 9:45 AM

Christopher Wharton, PhD , School of Nutrition and Health Promotion, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ
Dietary self-monitoring can be an important tool to improve weight-loss success and is a prevalent part of behavior-based weight control programs. However, written dietary logging methods can be burdensome for individuals. Recently, a number of technology solutions have been developed to allow for electronic dietary tracking. In particular, smartphone applications (apps) now exist that allow for mobile dietary data entry, presenting a novel tool for individuals to keep track of dietary intake using devices they already carry. This eight-week feasibility study assessed the use of a smartphone ‘app' for dietary self-monitoring by comparing it to dietary data entry using either a smartphone memo feature or a traditional paper-and-pencil method. Dietary quality and weight loss were also compared across eight weeks. Forty-seven adults completed the study. Participants using a smartphone app for dietary tracking (n=17) recorded dietary data more consistently and completely compared to the paper-and-pencil group (n = 15; p = .041), but did not differ from the memo group. All groups lost weight over the course of the study (p = .001), but no difference in weight loss was noted among groups. Although no differences were noted in dietary quality, smartphone app users trended towards decreasing dietary quality, while memo and paper-and-pencil users trended towards increasing dietary quality, over the course of the study. Practitioners should consider employing smartphone app technology as part of an overall strategy to help clients track dietary intake to lose or maintain weight.

Learning Areas:
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Compare the effectiveness of smartphone 'app' technology for dietary self-monitoring with other standard methods, such as paper-and-pencil diet records. Assess the impact of a dietary self-monitoring smartphone 'app' on weight loss compared to other dietary self-monitoring intervention techniques.

Keywords: Obesity, Dietary Assessment

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have researched, presented, and published on weight loss and nutrition education interventions for over 10 years. One of my primary scientific interests is the development of smartphone technology to improve dietary interventions for weight loss and dietary quality.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.