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Feb 14, 2013 9:10 AM by Samantha Ptashkin

Smart phone users download diet apps to stay fit

TUCSON- If you watch NBC's "The Biggest Loser" you know the battle of the bulge isn't easy.

But it's a battle Tucsonan Victor Pesqueira is winning. "I exercise seven days a week," Pesqueira says.

The 49-year-old stands six feet tall and weighs 170 pounds. It's a healthy combination he has earned by exercising, eating right and using his iPhone.

He uses an app from a company called "AthleteInMe". The calorie counter tells you how long you would have to exercise to burn off calories from specific food items.

Pesqueira enters his weight and meal, a large fry and a Big Mac. The calorie counter tells that in order to burn off that meal he would have to either bike for about 118 minutes, jog for about 74 minutes, swim for about 104 minutes, or walk for about 186 minutes.

"The reality is that most of the stuff we eat, or that's available, requires a lot of activity," Pesqueira says.

Now smart phone users are turning to thousands of similar diet apps to get the numbers straight.

"The big question is, which of them are high quality?" says Melanie Hingle, a researcher at the U of A's Nutritional Sciences Department.

They have developed an app called "Eat it Tweet it" to help them discover what makes a quality diet app. "It should allow you to collect data about yourself that you can then apply and use in your real life," Hingle says. "The information that comes from the app should be easy to understand."

Hingle also says to find out where the app's developer got their information. "If they're not willing to get back to you, or if they don't have a transparent summary on their website, or in any of their materials about how they got their information, I probably wouldn't use it," Hingle says.

She says sources like the CDC, USDA database and NIH are all reliable.

If it all checks out, Hingle says the diet apps can be very valuable in helping people track their weight, which in turn can help them reach their goal.

Pesqueira says it's simple math, more calories out, less calories in. He says the app is just another tool that makes the battle a bit easier.

To learn more about the app from "AthleteInMe" head to: www.athleteinme.com/pdathlete.aspx

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