One in three people are now trying to lose weight — and a new app has been launched to combat Ireland’s growing obesity problem.
The free smartphone app, launched by Safefood, comes as research shows almost two in three adults are overweight or obese. The cost of the problem to the economy is now estimated at €1.1bn.
The weight-mate app features a daily weight and physical activity tracker as well as over 400 calorie-counted recipes developed by nutritionists.
Users can plan and track their meals and activities to help them reach theirgoals.
The app also features a “Groups” function where users can set up a weight loss or physical activity group in their own community or their workplace or join an existing group in their area via the app.
It is free to download for both iPhone and Android.
Director of human health and nutrition at Safefood, Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, said that the app offered people a more realistic option than fad diets.
“When it comes to weight loss, the facts of the matter are that quick-fix, fad diets are unsustainable and ineffective and we know that it only leads to people ‘yo-yo’ dieting and regaining the weight they’ve lost or in some cases, even becoming heavier.
“Our free weight-mate app helps people to set goals, make realistic plans to eat better and exercise more and monitor those; we know from behaviour change studies that these techniques help people to stick with healthier habits for the long-term. Our app is aimed at the general adult population, not associated with any commercial product and developed by qualified nutritionists,” she said.
Dr Foley-Nolan stressed that losing even 5% to 10% in weight would lead to a range of health improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugars.
“For example, for a man who weighs 15 stone [95kg], a weight loss of 10% will be 1.5 stone, bringing his weight down to 13.5 stone. For a woman who weighs 11 stone, a 10% weight loss is just over a stone at 15lb. It’s really good news that this relatively modest weight loss can decrease your risk factors for chronic diseases related to obesity,” she said.
Launching the app, Health Minister Leo Varadkar said being healthy started with personal responsibility.
“Lots of people think about their health and weight at this time of year. That’s a good thing, because although obesity levels have stabilised, the recent Healthy Ireland survey showed that 60% of Irish people are overweight,” he said.
“But if you are planning to lose weight, you need a plan and you need good advice. Weight-mate can give you a helping hand by suggesting healthy meals, helping you to set goals and giving you encouraging hints.”.
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