akronchildrens.org

#TechTuesday: App makes weight loss easy and more fun for kids – and parents

What better way to help today’s gadget-loving kids lose weight than with a free and easy-to-use app like Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker by MyFitness Pal?

While there are tons of weight loss apps available, Dr. Michelle Levitt says she finds this one to be the most user friendly. And she should know.

Dr. Levitt is a pediatrician at Akron Children’s who specializes in childhood obesity. She’s passionate about her work to combat this epidemic, so she’s always looking for fun and simple-to-use tools for her patient families.

“The MyFitness Pal app is a complete food and exercise journal in one application,” said Dr. Levitt.  “And it’s so simple to use, my 10-year-old could use it. It probably is the best one I’ve seen that’s easiest for food journaling. Everything’s in there.”

Food journaling is the No. 1 way to be successful losing weight, according to Dr. Levitt. This app even breaks down the sodium, carbs and protein in your foods.

I downloaded the app and started using it today. Dr. Levitt was right. You can find just about any food. I searched for my lunch from the Pita Pit and discovered that my Morning Glory on wheat has 495 calories. That’s a lot better than the 900 calories I consumed in my Chipotle chicken burrito on Sunday.

“This app helps you realize the foods you can eat a lot of, without consuming a lot of calories,” Dr. Levitt said. “The key is to look up the foods before you eat them.”

You can also look up how many calories you burn doing various activities in the app’s fitness database of more than 350 exercises.

Another bonus is there’s a website. So if you don’t have a smartphone or iPad, you can always use the website to track your food and exercise.

In the U.S., between 30 and 42 percent of children 6 to 12 years of age are obese. In Ohio, that number hovers at the high end of 42 percent, and in Summit County, about 54 percent of all 6- to 12-year-olds are obese.

With this app, parents can encourage their kids to take control and start making healthier choices.

It’s available for Apple and Android devices.