Smartphone app targets obesity prevention based on users’ eating habits

Smartphone app targets obesity prevention based on users’ eating habits By: Karin Lillis

A smartphone app that targets eating habits and lifestyle could help you fend off overeating during times of stress and exhaustion. So says a study by a team from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the University of Connecticut, who presented the results at the American Medical Informatics Association’s annual symposium.

The app, called SlipBuddy, tailors interventions based on users’ behavior and reported eating habits during times of stress. It targets situations that could lead to overeating and offers suggestions that can instead trigger healthy behaviors.

Users are prompted to check in three times during the day to report stress levels, tiredness and hours slept. It also asks them to log whenever they overindulged.

The app gathers information to predict patterns of when a participant is likely to overeat, such as late-night snacking, while watching TV, or after a rough night of sleep. During those times, the app suggests alternative activities to lower stress, such as taking a walk or turning off the TV or the computer.

The monthlong pilot study included adults who were overweight, but not trying to drop the extra pounds. The researchers reported more than half of the study participants lost an average of five pounds; the rest either stayed the same weight or gained a pound or two.

The researchers plan to conduct more studies of the app this year, with a goal of being ready to release an app for Android- and Apple-based smartphones in 2019.

The new technology could come as an easy-to-use tool for better health for the more than one-third of American adults whom the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say are obese.

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