The calorie-tracking apps that have become so popular with weight-loss enthusiasts may not be providing the right kind of help, according to researchers at the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre.

Researchers screened 800 apps and picked 28 for the study.

Among other things, the calorie measures varied widely amont apps, with the average 30 calories from the actual nutritional measure. The worst overestimated by 71 calories and underestimated by 11.

Juliana Chen, a dietitian and PhD candidate at the centre, said a few steps can help consumers reduce the chance of picking a dud.

  • Make sure that health professionals were involved in development. A large number of weight-loss apps are designed by people with little scientific understanding of what supports weight loss.
  • Choose an app that includes techniques for changing behavior. Apps that include motivational components – points, levels, feedback, rewards and challenges – are more likely to lead to behavior changes.

Noom Weight Loss Coach by Noom Inc scored best, followed by Calorie Counter PRO by MyNetDiary Inc. and ControlMyWeight by CalorieKing Wellness Solution.

For more on the study, click here.