Who Needs An App For That? Most Of Us Use Old Ways To Track Diet

How apt. Recently, inspired by Project Louise, I got on the scale — and gasped at my new numerical heights, forced to face the fact that I can't eat everything I want, even if I do work out every day. So I dug out a tiny red notebook and started to track what I eat, a proven method for weight control.

I thought about using an app, but — I don't know. I'm already hit dozens of times a day by subconscious prompts to reach for my devices. And I like my little notebook.

Also, according to the Pew Research Center, a leading resource on how technology permeates our American lives, I'm in the overwhelming majority here. For all the buzz around FitBits and Jawbones, such health-tracking devices still have quite a market to conquer.

Susannah Fox, associate director at the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, writes that 60 percent of American adults track their exercise, weight or diet.

But few of them – just 9% – use either an app on a mobile device or online tool to take notes. Half say they keep track in their heads, and a third use pen and paper.

Readers, theories? Mine is that few of us want to quantify ourselves with such gorgeous visualization of data that we need computing power to do it. Personally, all I need to know is how close I've come to 1800 calories in a given day. Not rocket science, barely even math. But what do you think? And is there an app or an online tool so seductive and indispensable it will tip the balance?

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Carey Goldberg Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth section.



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