If you are a regular reader of my columns here or elsewhere, then you know that I have certainly done my share of bashing technology as a contributor to the obesity epidemic in this country.
It’s true that the classic “couch potato” – you know the ones – spending hours and hours glued to the sofa, staring at the TV or Video Game screen, is doing nothing for his or her health. However, on the flip side of that, there is a growing trend of new weight loss apps that continue to give a new meaning to the term “tech support.”
Maybe we are entering a new age of “digital dieting.”
For example, while some studies have shown that spending a lot of time on Facebook and other social media sites could encourage weight gain, some dieticians and nutritionists point out that the online support that dieters can receive via social media can work well in helping them to achieve their weight loss goals. It’s one thing to look in the mirror and promise yourself you will lose 20 pounds by springtime, it’s another to post or tweet it to hundreds of your fans and friends.
In a recent interview with Prevention, Registered Dietician Rachel Meltzer Warren said, “Connecting with people who share the same goals is like having your very own cheering section. There’s always someone there to celebrate when you drop those first 10 pounds or help you get back on track if you re-gain…”
Besides the virtual support groups made possible by internet and mobile technologies, there are also a growing number of interactive weight management websites, offering users all sorts of help to stay on track. The best of these types of sites are ones that allow you to continually input and update your weight, track your calorie intake and exercise regimen, and interact via live chat with other dieters and fitness experts.
And of course, as the saying goes, “there’s an app for that.” Diet and fitness apps are available and on the rise for both iPhone and Android platforms that can turn your smartphone into everything from a diet coach to a calorie counter and pedometer.
On the Job
It’s not just consumers struggling with the weight that are embracing these high-tech gizmos and gadgets, employers are seeing their benefit too. So much so, that some forward-thinking companies are even paying for their overweight employees to obtain and use them. It’s the same idea of subsidizing gym memberships to improve employee health and performance, and it seems to be working.
Matthew Levy, a healthcare management consultant based in Oakland, California has said, “Health-care costs arising from obesity issues are staggering. Many large companies self-insure, so these dollars drop straight to the bottom line. Encouraging corporate wellness with technology can yield significant savings…”
Well-known names in the diet industry such as Weight Watchers and Nutrisystems are offering high-tech weight loss solutions for corporate wellness, and innovative start-ups such as Chicago-based Retrofit, are taking advantage of this growing market.
According to their website, Retrofit uses a “combination of smart technology and expert coaching that provides a highly personalized experience that encourages behavior change.”
The company also provides devices like mobile fitness monitors and exercise trackers. Jeff Hyman, founder of Retrofit says this kind of digital dieting works for busy professionals who travel too often to take advantage of a local gym or who prefer online interaction on their schedule to in-office appointments or seminars.