Study: Seasons have little effect on dieting app reporting but the day of week does

If you’ve gotten three apps and a Fitbit so you can get skinnier this year, don’t worry so much about summer beach season or holiday weight gain. Instead, worry about Thursday.

Researchers at University of South Carolina found that self-reporting of food was integral to weight loss but that self-reporters often fell off, seemingly around the holidays. “A key question we wanted to answer is what impact the holiday season has on individuals’ efforts to monitor their calorie intake,” said lead author Christine A. Pellegrini, PhD.

They gave a dieting app to a group of 32 obese adults and asked them to self-report over various seasons. The app could tell when they reported intake, allowing the researchers to see when folks stopped reporting.

From the release:

After analysis of the data, a reduction in the number of foods reported by each person was seen with each successive day in the study. There was also a weekend effect such that participants reported significantly fewer foods between Thursday and Sunday relative to Monday. The study, however, determined that although more food was reported in January, an overall seasonality effect was not observed.

“Adults generally gain weight during the holidays and self-monitoring can help to manage weight during this period,” reported Pellegrini. “Weight loss is a common New Year’s resolution and may explain the increased number of foods reported in January; however, the typical pattern of self-monitoring during the holidays is not well established.”

The researchers saw food self-reporting fall off on a weekly basis between Thursday and Sunday which suggests that we are good at reporting what we eat at the beginning of the week but, as opportunities to cheat enter our weekend radar, we slow down considerably.

The bottom line? “Based on this study’s findings, providing these prompts on weekends may improve adherence to self-monitoring recommendations,” wrote the researchers. Basically someone has to remind us not to pig out on our days of rest.