April 20, 2024

Which health app is best? We tested Zoe, Fast 800, Noom and MyFitnessPal

Whether it’s a step counter, a sleep tracker, or a GP appointment system, chances are there’s a health app floating around on your smartphone.

Health and wellbeing apps are big business – the market was valued at around £36 billion in 2022, and an estimated 560 million people around the world use one. As technology has improved, increasingly health-conscious consumers have also become more comfortable logging their data on their phones, a trend that accelerated with the pandemic, as millions of us log Covid symptoms and vaccines in applications such as the ZOE Covid Study.

There is an app for every aspect of wellness; Many of them provide psychological support and act as a kind of “health mentor.” Apps appeal to our desire for instant gratification, says Jane Ogden, professor of health psychology at the University of Surrey.

“They give us instant, quantifiable feedback, which reinforces behavior. This can be quite addictive and very useful when it comes to changing our habits. Like other interventions, the novelty can wear off: there is a huge abandonment rate for apps. But they are usually cheap and require little effort, and can be a good long-term investment.”

Dr Heidi Seage, Senior Lecturer in Health Psychology at Cardiff Met University, adds: “People often find it difficult to estimate the nutritional or energy content of their diet; so health apps can help people understand their intake.

“However, food tracking can be problematic for people who have disordered eating patterns, as it can encourage focusing or rumination on eating behaviors. “Lifestyle apps can be useful for monitoring the process towards goals, but they do not always check whether the goals set by their users for lifestyle change are realistic and achievable.”

Many apps are scientifically backed and developed by respected doctors. So if you plan to sign up for a health app to achieve a health goal this year, which one should you choose? Here you’ll find detailed information on four of the most popular ones, and users describe how each app helped them.

Best for quick results

The fast 800

Cost: £119 for 12 weeks then £12 per month

Developed by TV doctor Michael Mosley and other doctors, Fast 800 has recently been endorsed by the NHS. Aimed at those looking to lose weight, including people with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, the plan combines intermittent fasting with a Mediterranean-style diet. The online program (including the app), currently discounted from £83, has personalized meal plans, recipes, 200 guided workouts, a health coach and science-backed support to make new habits stick.

Studies show that The Fast 800 users lost an average of 6kg during the first three months of use. Those with the most weight to lose (i.e., those with a BMI greater than 30 kg/m2) not only lost weight, but also maintained the most weight, managing, on average, to maintain a weight loss of 8.7 kg (19 lb) one year after finishing. the course. There were also significant improvements in metabolic health: Nearly half (47 percent) of people with type 2 diabetes (170 of them) managed to get their blood sugar levels back into the normal, healthy range while following the diet. Fans have praised his clear daily goals.

Pawel Gadomski, 45, an emergency consultant for the NHS in Manchester, weighed around 24 before he started using the Fast 800 app in 2020. As a doctor, he knew his obesity put him at high risk of type 2 diabetes. 2, already a much higher risk. risk during the Covid pandemic. “He had been receiving some therapy for stress and depression and had tried some diet regimens before, but they didn’t work for me,” he says.

“Then I came across the Fast 800 program. It took a lot of mental effort to change my diet. I had to prepare food the night before for the next day, instead of staying home watching TV, but I was determined to lose weight. I used the program for 12 weeks and noticed a huge difference in my weight and overall well-being. Now I’m around 14 and a half kilos, so I lost tenth place.

“I feel a lot better overall, I can climb stairs easier and I’m not as short of breath, so it certainly worked for me.”

The best for intestinal health


Cost: From £24.99 a month

The ZOE app is the brainchild of Tim Spector, Professor of Food Science at Imperial College London, who has led groundbreaking research showing that calorie counting doesn’t work and that people respond differently to foods depending on of its physiology. ZOE offers personalized nutritional counseling: users receive a blood glucose test and questionnaire at home and then receive a personalized program based on the results. There are several membership options, including a four-month membership for £159.96.

Studies by Zoe have found that 70 percent of users report having more energy and 85 percent felt their gut health had improved.

Julie, 59, from Bedford, who started using the ZOE app last year, says: “I became interested in the gut microbiome after listening to a Tim Spector podcast and wanted to know what the state of my personal microbiome was.

I felt like I had been eating in a way that was very unhealthy for my personal metabolism. When I received my test results, I started making the recommended changes and honestly, I have never felt better in my life.

My health has improved tremendously, my menopausal symptoms have completely disappeared, my energy has skyrocketed, my tinnitus has disappeared and I no longer feel lethargic after eating, so I feel happy from the inside out. I have also lost two kilos.”

Best for fitness fanatics

My FitnessPal

Cost: Free for a basic version or £15.99 per month for additional services

Developed over 10 years ago, MyFitnessPal is primarily aimed at younger people who want to control their calorie intake and output in terms of regular exercise. Users keep a food diary and the app alerts them when they are under or over the amount of calories allotted for their daily activities. The company claims to have around 200 million regular users worldwide.

Grant Roberts, 37, from Melbourne, has been using the app for more than five years and lost between 30 and 40 pounds in the first six months. He says: “It became a tool for me to learn more about nutrition and helped me stabilize my calorie intake and get the right amount of exercise. I can still drink alcohol and occasionally some sweet foods, but once my body got used to a healthier diet, I started to feel much better, so now I don’t want to eat unhealthy foods anymore. Therefore, it is a support system for a healthier lifestyle.”

Best for middle-aged women


Cost: £12.50 per month

Noom is a subscription service designed by psychologists, nutritionists and trainers that aims to change your relationship with food for lasting results. Users answer a series of questions and then receive a personalized plan based on goals, age, gender and psychological factors. They have access to a coach and the community of Noom users. A study published in The British medical journal found that 64 percent of Noom users in the UK lost more than 5 percent of their total body weight. Another showed that 78 percent of participants who used Noom lost weight during a six-month study.

Writer Sophie Morris says: “After avoiding diets for a decade, I came to Noom six months before my 40th birthday as the ultimate weight-loss cliché, determined to squeeze into a pair of sequin pants. Noom claims to be radically different from any other approach to weight loss, but when you sign up you discover it’s a classic low-calorie, low-fat diet. You weigh everything, track all your food in the app, and step on the scale every day. Lessons and quizzes teach nutrition and evaluate psychological approaches to eating, with the goal of training and tricking our brains away from “bad” habits.

“I was hoping I could trick my brain into avoiding food. That’s more or less what happened. I lost six kilos in four months and wore those very tight pants the last night before lockdown in March 2020. Four years later, only two of those kilos have returned. The capture? I became more obsessed than ever with my weight. And I missed pudding like a lost lover. I remember seeing a plate of tiramisu hovering around the table at a party, wanting it but not being able to eat it.

“It works, but it made me reject foods I know I love, which made me feel bad.”

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