Weight-loss apps aren’t as helpful as everyone hoped


Related Articles

Are you relying on an app to help with your weight-loss goals? You’re not alone, but research shows that this technology probably isn’t doing you much good. A new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine concluded that popular weight-loss apps are ineffective because they don’t lead to significant and long-term “behavioral strategies that help improve motivation, reduce stress and assist with problem solving.”(1)

Diet; counting calories and other nutrients; exercise; and goal setting are not enough to lose weight and keep it off — unless you are highly motivated and track every mouthful and movement. 

If you’re like most people and your motivation comes and goes, there’s a good chance you’ll get frustrated and regain the weight — unless you have a defined plan, along with strategies. You’ve heard it before: Successful weight loss is a lifestyle change, not a “diet.” Outlining a plan will help you adopt healthier lifestyle habits and provide you with the motivation and support that are needed to overcome obstacles over the long term.  

This is reflected in the research from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, which pointed out that these apps omit crucial details essential to getting you — and keeping you — in your skinny jeans. The authors determined that “weight-loss mobile apps typically included only a minority of the behavioral strategies found in evidence-based weight-loss interventions.”(1)

As this study suggests, diet success is often determined by a realistic goal, a personalized approach, and changes in eating and lifestyle habits that may lead to successful long-term weight management. 

While there isn’t one strategy that fits all, one personalized support program is Dukan Diet Coaching at DukanDiet.com. It offers daily personalized counseling and motivation via Internet and phone, and provides education to help members find solutions to obstacles and get back on track for long-term behavioral changes.

Another essential and motivational component of the Dukan Diet is the concept of “true weight,” a personalized, healthy weight goal that is maintainable for life. After identifying this weight goal, 80 significant personal factors are taken into account to determine each member’s unique journey to achieve their true weight.

Dieters with these many pillars of support are far more successful in the long term for maintaining a healthy weight than programs that offer one or two of these pillars:

  • An integrated plan;

  • Realistic goals;

  • Personalized attention to help reduce the stress of dieting;

  • Motivation to help dieters stay on track; and

  • Education to assist in problem solving and behavioral changes. 


In fact, according to a survey by the French Institute of Public Opinion, nearly 80% of Dukan Diet coached members managed to reach and keep their weight-loss goal over seven months.(2)

Much as I think that I’m a good coach who helps my clients adhere to all things “diet,” I agree that the “inclusion of additional strategies could make apps more helpful to users who have motivational challenges.”(2)

If you’re trying to reach a weight goal that you can maintain long term, I strongly encourage you to find a weight loss and weight maintenance program with these important elements that can work for you today and for life. 


Jacqueline B. Marcus, MS, RD, LD, CNS, FADA, FAND is a nutrition consultant and owner of Jacqueline B. Marcus and Associates Food and Nutrition Consulting in Highland Park, Ill. Her just-released book, “Culinary Nutrition: The Science and Practice of Healthy Cooking” (Elsevier, 2014), devotes an entire chapter to weight management with recipes.



  1. Pagoto, S, Schneider, K, Jojic, M, DeBiasse, M, Mann, D. Evidence-Based Strategies in Weight Loss Mobile Apps. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Volume 45, Issue 5, Pages 576-582, November, 2013.

  2. French Institute of Public Opinion Survey “Evaluation of people who have stabilized their weight” 2010. [Accessed 11.05.13].