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Am J Prev Med. 2013 Nov;45(5):583-9. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2013.07.005.

Mobile applications for weight management: theory-based content analysis.

Author information

  • 1Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute, Palo Alto. Electronic address: azark@pamfri.org.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The use of smartphone applications (apps) to assist with weight management is increasingly prevalent, but the quality of these apps is not well characterized.

PURPOSE:

The goal of the study was to evaluate diet/nutrition and anthropometric tracking apps based on incorporation of features consistent with theories of behavior change.

METHODS:

A comparative, descriptive assessment was conducted of the top-rated free apps in the Health and Fitness category available in the iTunes App Store. Health and Fitness apps (N=200) were evaluated using predetermined inclusion/exclusion criteria and categorized based on commonality in functionality, features, and developer description. Four researchers then evaluated the two most popular apps in each category using two instruments: one based on traditional behavioral theory (score range: 0-100) and the other on the Fogg Behavioral Model (score range: 0-6). Data collection and analysis occurred in November 2012.

RESULTS:

Eligible apps (n=23) were divided into five categories: (1) diet tracking; (2) healthy cooking; (3) weight/anthropometric tracking; (4) grocery decision making; and (5) restaurant decision making. The mean behavioral theory score was 8.1 (SD=4.2); the mean persuasive technology score was 1.9 (SD=1.7). The top-rated app on both scales was Lose It! by Fitnow Inc.

CONCLUSIONS:

All apps received low overall scores for inclusion of behavioral theory-based strategies.

© 2013 American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

PMID:
24139771
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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