Fitness App May Not Promote Weight Loss Unless You Use It

Having MyFitnessPal on your smartphone may not mean you'll lose weight

They say there’s an app for everything, but that doesn’t necessarily mean those apps do all the work. At least that’s what a new study says.

The study found that people who had MyFitnessPal — one of the most popular fitness and calorie-counting apps available — didn’t lose much more weight than people who tried to lose weight without an app.


To study the app, Douglas S. Bell, MD, PhD, a physician at the University of California Los Angeles, and colleagues split a group of 212 overweight patients into two groups — 105 patients who were given MyFitnessPal and 107 who were not. After six months, the researchers followed up with the patients.

When they measured the users’ weight loss and blood pressure, they found almost no difference between those who had the app and those who didn’t.

But what does that mean for your weight loss goals? It means you won’t likely see results from using a weight loss app unless you’re committed to using it.

There’s likely nothing inherently wrong with the philosophy behind the app, Dr. Bell and team noted. It’s simple — you count your calories and report how much exercise you get. The app makes recommendations to help you reach your weight loss and fitness goals.

What can go wrong, however, is with the person using the app. Participants who didn’t use the app regularly or stopped using it altogether had more trouble losing weight, the researchers noted.

This study was published Nov. 17 in Annals of Internal Medicine.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program, National Institutes of Health and the Resource Centers for Minority Aging Research funded the study. The researchers reported no conflicts of interest.