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Rise of the Personal App

March 14th 2014

The UK is the most overweight country in western Europe.  In fact, in the whole of Europe only the Hungarians are fatter.  We’re still behind the US, where the population is overweight by a total of four billion pounds.  According to the latest figures, 26% of the UK population is obese, contributing to a total of 61% being overweight.  And its getting worse.  Indeed, Sally Davies commented that she feared today’s children will live shorter lives than their parents.  Individuals, it seems, have no appetite (sorry) for taking enough care of themselves.

Now, there are many weight management apps around, helping you track how many calories you absorb and coming up with suggestions on what you should eat next.  The most successful of these combine this with personalised comments which help motivate self discipline.  However, it’s a manually intensive process to enter what you are eating every time, as well as the expensive effort required to add in expert advice.

However, a new app may have the answer.  Rise is a new app from the US that simply requires you to take a photo of what you are about to eat.  There’s no guessing how big a portion size is, or manually entering foods and trying to guess how many calories there were.  You can add in some details if you wish, but it’s the image that counts.  The software does its best to process the image and calculate the calorie intake.  Then, every once in a while, a nutritionist (“diet coach”) makes a comment or suggestion.  The key here is that Rise seems to have put together a cloud set of nutritionists and provides a dashboard to them – enabling them to give individual feedback, often daily.  Rise was set up by Suneel Gupta, ex VP of product development at Groupon and seems to work, judging by recent posts.

With so many apps doing apparently trivial things it’s good news that some of them are attempting to address the big issues.

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