Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Are Your Favorite Health Apps Causing More Harm Than Good?

Are Your Favorite Health Apps Causing More Harm Than Good?

Who doesn't love finding a new health app to help them stay in shape? From dieting apps to pedometers, there's practically a new app out there that can help you reach your health goals - or so it seems anyway. New studies show, however, that apps shouldn't the only way you monitor your health. (1)

How do health apps cause harm?

The FDA is concerned that some people may be using these apps alone in place of medical help, which could lead to problems when it comes to managing high blood pressure and diabetes. The FDA says that these apps are used in conjunction with medical advice, not to replace it. (1)

How many people use health apps?

Almost 20% of all smartphone users have at least one health app downloaded to their device. It's also predicted that next year at least 500 millions smartphone users will have a health app on their device in order to manage their weight or help them achieve certain health goals. (1)

If you generally use a health app to count steps, meal logging, or counting calories, then there isn't too much to be concerned about. Medical News Today says that the problem lies when people rely on apps that are supposed to test for epileptic seizures, blood pressure changes, blood sugar changes, etc. Though some of these apps may work, it may be dangerous to rely on them for your overall health. (1)

But what about apps used to track weight loss?

The most popular health app is My Fitness Pal, which has over 40 million daily users, and that number is only growing. But does counting calories through a smartphone app really work? For some, it seems to be so and for others not so much. Apps may help a person see negative patterns in their daily habits such as skipping exercising, eating unhealthy foods, or eating the wrong portion sizes, however it's still up to the user to make the change, which ultimately leads to health benefits. (1)

Whether you use health apps or not, if you have a medical condition, it's best to use these apps alongside your doctor's advice instead of direct replacement for it. (1) Last year the FDA set a final guidance for smartphone app developers who specifically develop medical apps for this reason. (2)

Apple's new health app: does it work?

And then there's the question many of you are likely asking: What about the new app by Apple released in the latest IOS 8 software? The new app showcases an easy-to-read display that allows users to see how many steps they've taken and track their meals each day. The app also measures your blood pressure, heart rate, calories burned, cholesterol and more! You can even sync your music to help you pick up the pace. (3) The new app is definitely a benefit from the new IOS 8 software; however, you should use the new app (and any others) to enhance your health, not as your sole medical guidance.

Sources for this article include:

(1) www.medicalnewstoday.com
(2) www.medicalnewstoday.com
(3) www.apple.com