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Weight Loss Devotional Apps: Can faith help you lose weight?

Amanda Cofer, MPH

Most of us have something we believe in, whether that’s the universe, a higher power, or even nature. Over the years, as the weight of our nation increased, so did the varying approaches on how to combat the issue. Faith-based devotional apps grew in popularity with the rise of the smartphone (I mean, who wants to carry around a bunch of books with them all the time?) but a new twist on these apps appeared and they started to focus on weight loss. Many religions and cultures have a health component – but can faith help you lose weight?

Motivation and community in weight loss devotional apps

Weight loss can be hard and it’s common for motivation to ebb and flow as you walk in your journey to better health. Many of these devotional apps are aimed at motivating their users throughout the process with some even stating that the “main struggle” with losing weight is staying motivated to actually see results. While this may be true for some and finding this in a higher power may feel effective, addressing what is impacting motivation talking through it, troubleshooting, and gaining confidence to move forward could be more impactful.

If you have a place of worship, you know that it can bring a sense of community and purpose to your life. You may feel motivated by those around you to get involved in your congregation, better yourself, and encourage others. Research has shown that in a church type environment, a spiritual-based program can yield equally impressive weight loss results as it’s non-spiritual counterparts as well as provide additional benefits such as ongoing support. If you’re already swamped though you probably don’t have the time to drive to weekly gatherings and meetings. When it comes to weight loss and changing your lifestyle having a community and social network is all too important. So can a devotional app geared towards weight loss provide the same results?

Evidence and guidance behind weight loss devotional apps

Right now there is little evidence supporting that a devotional app can play a major role in weight loss. What we do know, though, is that culture and religion can shape our health beliefs and behaviors to an extent. A study done at Northwestern University found that those who regularly attended religious functions were more likely to be overweight or obese than those who didn’t. With this information, many churches and organization have started to work on making potlucks healthier and implement programs to help their attendees get fit. With the rise of technology, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that apps (especially multi-faceted ones like Noom) can be effective in achieving weight loss but when it comes to a daily devotional for weight loss and if being religious can help you become healthier the evidence really just points to a big ol’ “maybe” or a “we just don’t know.”

Many who practice a daily devotion find them inspiring, uplifting, and an enlightening way to start their day with their morning coffee. This type of religious guidance may help provide a meditative moment for coping with stress which can be important in a weight loss journey but when it comes to guidance towards lifestyle change, it may take something a bit more specialized. The Noom approach to changing your lifestyle, losing weight, and keeping it off is done through an app that provides varying levels of evidence-based guidance that can be used in a way that works best for you.

The bottom line on weight loss devotional apps

The bottom line is that faith can sometimes shape the way we see our health and habits. Devotional apps out there geared towards weight loss may provide a sense of motivation, purpose, and inspiration but they may be lacking when it comes to having a sense of community that other programs may be able to provide. There is some evidence showing the effectiveness of church-based programs but there is little out there supporting the results that devotional apps may provide. Noom’s program allows for more specialized weight loss guidance through an evidence and psychology-based approach to encourage healthy behaviors in multiple areas of your life and wellbeing.   

Author: Amanda Cofer, MPH