Drexel University creates weight loss app to help keep you on track

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- More than two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. But so often, when they try to lose weight, they fall into a vicious cycle - doing great in the early days and then lapsing back into bad habits.

A Drexel University team is testing a smartphone app to predict those lapses.

We all know the drill - eat more fruits and vegetables, and fewer processed foods. Also, exercise more and sit less.

It's the tried and true formula to slim down, but psychology professor Evan Forman of Drexel University says that's tough to do and dieters don't have very good tools to help them.

"People will eventually, and usually quickly, have lapses - times when they can't follow the plan. And those add up over time," he said.

Very few people who lose weight actually keep it off long-term.

To answer that, Forman's team developed OnTrack, the first smartphone app to predict when you're about to lapse - and help you stay on track.

"We identified many factors which contribute to lapsing, people slipping from a weight loss program," said Forman.

Then, OnTrack learns which factors matter most to each person, getting better and better at predicting when you'll slip.

It also offers suggestions to keep you on track, targeting the reason, such as boredom, loneliness, hunger, or fatigue.

Right now OnTrack depends on users putting in info about their emotions, but Forman says the next step is coming.

"We're actually experimenting with newer ways of using sensors to automatically know people's states," he said.

Early tests with the app show it helped predict lapses and it showed it was able to prevent those lapses and lead to weight loss.

OnTrack is still being tested and Drexel's Well Center is looking for some volunteers for that and several other projects.

To see if you qualify, CLICK HERE.
Copyright © 2019 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.