MyFitnessPal Works If You Use It

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 9.33.22 AMYou may have seen some news regarding a study MyFitnessPal recently did with UCLA.

I wanted to take a minute to address this study, since we participated in it directly. We are excited that we got to work with some very smart people to answer a question we also wanted to know the answer to. We jumped at the opportunity to find out—is having your physician introduce you to the app and help you sign up enough to kickstart a health journey?

What we learned is that just introducing people to MyFitnessPal wasn’t enough. People have to be ready and willing to do the hard work.

The app itself does work—if you use it. Our own data and the data from the study show that the more you log on, the more you use the app, the more success you will see. Users that logged in the most lost the most weight. In fact, we already know that 88% of users who log for 7 days lose weight.

We make tools designed to make it as clear and simple as possible for you to see the path to achieving your fitness goals. We are not, however, making a magic bullet—because there is no magic bullet. Ultimately, you’re the one who has to do the work.

And my, how much work you guys have done.

You have:

  • lost over 180 million pounds
  • logged over 14.5 billion foods
  • burned 364 billion calories
  • supported each other with over 82 million status likes in the last year alone
  • and much more!

The first thing I say when people talk to me about MyFitnessPal is that user success is our true North. We are relentlessly focused on user success. We believe that if you are succeeding at reaching your goals then we will succeed as a company. We’re going to keep working to make our app even more accessible, simple to use, and motivating so we can help even more people succeed.

Of course, it’s our job to make the app as engaging and easy to use as possible. It’s not exactly where we want to be, yet. But we’ll keep working hard to get there. To that end, we’ve made lots of updates since this study was done. From a product perspective, in the last year and a half we’ve:

  • streamlined the logging experience
  • made logging streaks more visible
  • added more ways to get push notifications and reminders
  • added insights to help you get more out of logging
  • made a recipe tool that allows you to quickly log recipes from anywhere across the web

As long as you keep working on your goals, we’re going to work on better ways to help you get there.

Thanks for everything you do, making the MyFitnessPal community so amazing, and helping us toward our vision of making an even healthier world.

Mike Lee is the Founder and CEO of MyFitnessPal

10 replies »

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  2. Interesting article on a trendy app. There are so many more options for weight loss with smart phones. This article has won my vote after seeing the statistics. 88% of users lost weight? Sign me up!

  3. Alfredo is correct. It has to be a game (app) that is fun to repeat. Weight Watchers works as well, but people stop using it because it is not really addressing the problem which is whatever (FOR THE INDIVIDUAL) makes eating to excess better than not.

  4. Well Mike I think that’s the issue with any app or basically any software. You could build the most enhanced technology anyone has ever seen but if the target user doesn’t care then it’s just a waste of time and money. One thing I learned while building my app is that it’s not about solving a problem, it’s about solving that problem effectively but at the same time by creating an experience for the customer. That experience is what’s going to keep the user opening your app every day from the other hundreds installed in their phones.

  5. Personally, I have seen 8-10 coworkers in one department lose more than 10 pounds while using the app. I can easily see how the app would be effective for some people because it is just a simple motivational checkbook system they use for guidance. Also, I would think most people that know they are tracking calories and expenditure would probably make improvements in at least one of those habits. The app doesn’t burn the calories for you, and it sure as hell doesn’t buy your groceries, cook or tell the waiter what you should order. But…if using a free app is a catalyst for people to improve health decisions, then why bash it? I don’t see a need for personal trainers after a brief few sessions to show and observe exercises, and to teach a proper intensity progression, yet we all know many people feel like they “need” one because they have to essentially report to an appointment. On the downside, I don’t really know many people that use the app longer than a few months. The people at the office here used it as a boost to get going in the right direction, and yes some of them went back to it later after falling off the wagon. 🙂

  6. Did you control for diet and exercise when you estimated the effect of MyFitnessPal?

    I’d be pretty impressed if you didn’t have to exercise or diet and could lose weight… And pretty unimpressed if the app only works when you diet and exercise, which worm without the app.

    Joking aside, what are the ITT results from the study? If a random patient for one of the doctors in the study is invited to use the app how much more weight do they lose, on average? If it is more than 2 pounds I’d be impressed.

  7. Truthfully, Mike, other things that work if you use them are: your will, your brain, your heart, your lungs, your legs, your torso, your arms, a notebook and a pen, a tablet with a calendar & note function, a friend, and a family member.

    Honestly, after I slammed your particular brand of magic fairy dust here on 11/13, no one from your shop had the guts to respond directly, but you did change your homepage to remove the lead claim that I questioned. Of course, you’ve ignored every other question I asked.

    Let’s do the math you won’t do (You went to Princeton, but won’t do basic math; I went to Hopkins and do it all the time. Strange, huh?) Taking your earlier claim of 65 million weight losers and using it as the deminator for your now stated claim of 180 million pounds lost means an average weight loss of 2.7 pounds. Wow.

    I can see the trajectory of the nation’s healthcare spending bending toward the horizon now.