USC Looking for Diet Study Participants

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) – The University of South Carolina is looking for participants in a new study on weight loss that will have dieters post photos of their food as a way to keep track of it and to get feedback from other participants in the study.

Researcher Brie Turner-McGrievy says, “We know that tracking diet is one of the number one predictors of weight loss success, but we also know that, even with the best apps out there, people tend to stop using them after a while. You have to log everything you eat and drink still, and so we want to see if using food photos with their phone can help with tracking your diet, making it easier, and giving some feedback on what you’re eating and keeping you on track with weight loss.”

She says researchers know that people love to post photos of their food on Instagram and other social media sites, so this study will see if that can be harnessed to help them lose weight. Participants will interact by looking at each other’s photos and giving feedback.

“We usually use a stoplight approach, with red, yellow, and green, which is sort of the slow-go-and-whoa approach. So the red foods would be you shouldn’t really be eating those at all, yellow in moderation, and green, eat as much as you want, so that’s things like fruits and vegetables,” Turner-McGrievy says.

She recently finished another study that compared people who used a diet app on their phones to people who used a “bite counter”, which looks like a watch or a Fitbit. It counts how many times participants raised their hands to their mouths to eat. Since the study just ended last week she’s still analyzing results.

Anna Stiglbauer was part of that study and used a diet app alone, not the bite counter. She lost almost 50 pounds. “It enabled me to plan my meals and it would give me instant feedback on calories, grams of protein, carbs, and fat, and so it would let me know the nutritional value of what I’d just eaten and what I was about to eat,” she says.

In order to take part in this new study, participants need to be overweight or obese, between the ages of 18 and 65, have an Android phone or iPhone, and be able to come to the USC campus for two face-to-face meetings.

You can get more information, including a questionnaire you would need to fill out, at http://uscweightresearch.com/

The next step after this study would be a larger study, possibly comparing the use of photos to traditional weight-loss methods or building in photo use to traditional methods, or possibly coming up with a new weight loss app that uses the photos and feedback, Turner-McGrievy says.

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