Overweight children lose more weight using an anonymous smartphone app- W8loss2Go, instead of traditional support groups researchers have found.
Doctors increasingly believe that some cases of obesity are caused by addiction to junk food and therefore treatments based on Alcoholics Anonymous would help.
These anonymous social networks offer support without the fear of being judged but for children and young people, smart phone apps were found to be more effective than anonymous withdrwal type websites.
It comes in the week that the quango National Institute for Curbing Expenditure (NICE) issued new nanny guidance recommending that the word ‘obese’ should not be used to label very overweight people because it is derogatory.
Research conducted by Dr Robert Pretlow, Research Institute, eHealth International, Seattle, USA, who owns a children’s website weigh2rock.com and his W8 Loss 2 Go smart phone weight loss app, found children lost more weight using the app than the website.
Those using the anonymous website lost 7.4lbs or 3.4kgs compared with 10lbs or 4.5kgs on average among the children using the app. The figures were not given as a percentage of total bodyweight lost and it is not clear how similar the two groups were.
The findings were presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Lyon, France.
Dr Pretlow said: “Programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Drug Addicts Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous (OA), and Food Addicts Anonymous demonstrate that support groups are indispensable in the addiction treatment approach.
“The crucial point here is that people remain anonymous.”
“Group support helps the obese person tolerate withdrawal from problem foods and adds motivation to keep going. Re-addiction is prevented by socially learning to cope with life without turning to food.”
“While weight loss from social networking is not as much as face to face weight loss programs, social networking is much cheaper and much more widely available. It is also ongoing for weight maintenance and dealing with relapses.”
Given that the United Nations believes that obesity is one of the greatest challenges facing humans this one little app could be the start of something big. Or Less.