Poor dietary choices and lack of physical activity are two main contributing factors for the increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity in the United States. Overweight and obese individuals are at risk for developing major life-threatening diseases. Weight loss is an effective means for reversing these adverse health effects, and smartphone applications (apps) may be an effective means for supporting weight loss outside of formal clinical settings. This study involved identifying factors that contribute to effective weight loss to compare with functionality commonly found in a sample of calorie counter apps. A content analysis was performed using a design framework that included a conceptual model describing the interaction of behaviors for effective weight loss and functional design requirements based upon behavior change and motivation to achieve weight loss. The requirements were used to analyze the presence of features in a sample of popular calorie counting apps, to infer their capability in supporting users' motivation to achieve weight loss. Results indicated that app features might not provide sufficient support to facilitate effective weight loss. Lack of supportive features affects perceived autonomy, relatedness, and competence, reducing motivation. This study provided guidelines to improve the design of calorie counter apps to include more features that support users as they engage in weight loss behaviors. The guidelines may become practical for use in mHealth apps used as part of formal and informal weight management strategies. Implications for future research involving wearable technologies and the use of gamified design strategies are discussed.
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Master of Science (M.S.)
College of Sciences
Modeling and Simulation
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Milliard, Sharlin, "Designing Calorie Counter Smartphone Applications for Effective Weight Loss" (2019). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 6753.