AlzU Blog

Can Food and Activity Trackers Help with Alzheimer's Prevention?

If you or a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) need an innovative way to get motivated when it comes to working out and maintaining a healthy diet, you may want to consider a digital food and activity tracker.  There are many online options available.  In fact, most recently the number of calorie counting and fitness tracking apps has literally exploded online.  The new technology is said to help keep dieters mindful and vigilant when it comes to eating healthy and working out regularly. The question is: do these digital tools really work to help with diet compliance and weight loss?

Study on Diet Trackers


A recent study conducted at Northwestern University found that mobile apps to help boost weight loss can be effective when used as part of a comprehensive program.  This means the person is utilizing additional resources (such as support groups, fitness classes etc.) to lose weight.  The study involved 70 men of average age of 58, who were overweight (none of which were considered highly tech savvy). 

Some of the men in the study group were instructed to log their food intake and activity via pen and paper.  Others were given mobile apps and a coach to provide periodic brief phone check-in sessions.  The app used in the study was similar to those typically available on the commercial market-used to keep a record of calories and exercise and to evaluate weight loss progress.

Each group of study participants got involved in educational classes offering topics such as nutrition and change. The study concluded that the men with the mobile apps who attended 80% of the educational classes performed best at meeting their weight loss goals.

“They were able to lose 15 pounds and keep it off (for a year),” says Bonnie Spring, study author and professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Spring went on to explain that the group support offered by the classes were one factor that explained the success of those who attended regularly. “People need all the tools at their disposal,” added Spring.

In the study, the average weight loss, among the men who used the app to track their food intake and activity, was 8.6 pounds.  Those who participated in educational classes, but NOT the mobile app reportedly did not lose weight.

Most digital apps don’t include a professional coach so it is not completely clear as to what the results of the study might have been if the participants were using the tracker alone. However, the study results would be applicable to those getting some type of weight loss coaching and support from another source.

Where to Find Digital Tracking Apps


Learn more about online tracking apps by CLICKING HERE.  The article offers several links and descriptions of a few of the more popular food and activity apps available on iTunes and Google play.  Most of the apps are free, but some have a premium feature with a cost associated, and other trackers may require a fee; so be sure to read the fine print before signing up. 

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