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Popular Data-Driven Weight Loss App Mixes AI And A Human Touch To Boost Success

By: MICHAEL GROTHAUS

So 2017 is finally here and once again you’re determined to get healthy and drop those extra pounds. You and millions of others. It’s far and away the most popular promise we make as that ball drops in Times Square. Yet sadly, statistically speaking, you’re very likely to drop the ball on that get-healthy goal.

Tech innovation is increasingly playing an important part in the laudable bulge battle. Think Fitbit and any number of apps that count calories and log meals. But now there’s what Scientific Reports’ Nature calls a crucial new tool: artificial intelligence.

The popular app Noom is one of the biggest to turn to AI. An analysis of the results of 35,921 users from 2012 to 2014 found interesting results: 77.9% of participants reported a decrease in body weight; 25% lost more than 10% of their body weight; and nearly 80% reported they kept the weight off for more than nine months.

The app uses AI to sift through a user’s exercise and food logs and suggest personalized diets and changes in fitness regimens to maximize a user’s weight loss. The AI also helps educate, suggesting articles that explain things like why whole grain bread is better than white.

But since the study, Noom has added an old-school approach to its data-driven app: real-life weight loss coaches. Actual human beings.

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