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Note on Lifestyle

What’s in an app?

Apps are an attractive item in healthcare these days, especially in chronic disease. They are inexpensive, amazingly scalable, available 24/7, and can also be visually appealing. However, many people seem to view them as solutions, rather than vehicles, and content often seems to be just a secondary consideration. Reliable outcome data in the target population is frequently lacking. This paper reviewed 29 apps available in October 2015, that used photo tracking to help people follow a diet plan. Unfortunately they identified major shortcomings in the approaches to almost all of them, and none of them had available data on effectiveness. Access to app development is nearly universal, and I believe we need to start at the more difficult but more important back end, with data on effective content and behavioral approaches, and then move to the front end, which is the app development and interface.

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