As 2016 comes to a close, people get ready to make New Year resolutions for 2017. Health, in particular, weight loss, is always one of the top resolutions. And with the omnipresent smartphone, more and more people are turning to apps for nutrition (diet) information. A recent study identified and analyzed 28,905 apps specific to weight management and found that 34% focused on physical activity, 31% on diet, and 23% on recording/monitoring of exercise, calorie intake, and body weight. In addition, there are countless more apps that are disease-specific, such as those for diabetes and Celiac disease.
With so many apps available, however, what is the actual effectiveness at achieving the goal of healthy weight loss? A systematic review examined 27 studies between 2006 and 2016 that investigated changes in health behaviors and related health outcomes (such as fitness, body weight, and blood pressure) using an app alone or in combination with another tool. A significant improvement in the measure was found in those who used apps in conjunction with other interventions (such as physical education, face-to-face counseling, and provision of physical activity equipment) compared to those who used only apps. This showed that apps can be a modestly effective tool to improve health behaviors, but people should not depend on apps alone.
Here are five nutrition apps that may help you shop for healthy food, log nutrition intake, and they also provide safe and sound general (non-disease-specific) nutrition advice.
Fooducate (Android, iOS; Free)
Fooducate is based off a website meant to provide evidence-based nutrition information. The app does just that and more. Users can quickly pull up nutritional information about food products from barcodes, and nutrition labels are easily explained. In addition, each food has a letter grade so that users can quickly discern the food’s nutritional worth. Healthy alternatives are also provided. The app also provides an intake, calorie, and exercise tracker. A paid upgrade is available for additional features and removal of ads.