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Q&A: Weight loss app takes alternative route to dieting (Includes interview)

Embarking on a diet for the New Year, most consumers will quickly become frustrated and fail in their New Year’s health goals because they followed a fad diet that was based on the recommendation of others. instead, optimal diets are based on individual factors. A new artificial intelligence driven app called Lifesum charts this alternative approach to dieting.

To understand more, Digital Journal spoke with the CEO of Lifesum, Henrik Torstensson, who elaborates on why 2020 will see a dramatic shift toward AI for consumers trying to lose weight.

Digital Journal: How has the thinking about weight loss changed in recent years?

Henrik Torstensson: In recent years, the weight loss industry has changed its focus to overall wellness and health. Most consumers have realized that a focus on weight loss tends to result in a quick-fix approach to a permanent challenge. Instead, they’ve started to focus on healthy lifestyle changes that are more likely to last, like going plant-based or simply drinking more water.

Overall, we are on the brink of a complete transformation of the global health market, and whether you are a tech company, a pharmaceutical giant, or an investor in digital health products, the health and wellness landscape is changing.

DJ: Why was Lifesum developed?

Torstensson: Lifesum was co-founded by Tove Westlund, Martin Wählby, Marcus Gners and myself. The four of us wanted to create something to support and encourage people to improve every aspect of their wellbeing. We also wanted it to be so much more than just a weight loss app; we wanted to help people live longer, happier and healthier lives – permanently.

We don’t guilt our users into strict calorie counting; rather, we place the focus on overall health benefits and the nutritional value of food. Our Life Score™ feature in particular helps guide individuals toward healthier choices, giving them a weekly health score calculated by their nutritional intake, hydration, and exercise levels.

DJ: What part does artificial intelligence play with Lifesum?

Torstensson: Lifesum is engaged in artificial intelligence research, and we’ve already begun to use AI to help individuals lose weight and get healthy.

Last year, Lifesum became the first-ever digital health app to launch a Google Assistant app, allowing users to log their food and water consumption by simply speaking to their phone. In other words, Lifesum users can now track food, water or weight, get an update or a request a challenge by simply using their voice.

In order to track food, Lifesum users can now say “I had a small lunch” or “Add a large dinner” to their phone, and it will automatically update their logs on Lifesum. In order to track water consumption, individuals can say something like “Add a glass of water” or “Track 3 glasses of water.”

DJ: How does Lifesum work for the consumer?

Torstensson: Roughly 35 million consumers log what they eat and drink, when they exercise, their weight and other lifestyle habits on Lifesum.

Whether the user’s goal is to get fitter, lose weight or just lead a healthier lifestyle, Lifesum shows individuals how changing small habits and implementing them in everyday life can improve their overall health. We continually gives users personalized feedback, helping them evaluate what works for them so they can successfully reach their health goals.

But changing behaviors isn’t easy. That’s why we combine traditional health data, like blood test results, with behavioral data detailing diet and exercise. This allows us to better understand an individual’s current health status and help them take steps to improve it.

That said, this information is only half of the picture when it comes to health. Lifesum also uses motivational psychology to design personalized messages that help keep users on track.

DJ: How do you ensure Lifesum is up-to-date?

Torstensson: We have a large team of nutritionists, software engineers and product specialists that continuously work on not only keeping Lifesum up-to-date, but to create something radically better. Our large team makes Lifesum better based on our internal data, user interviews and understanding broader trends in food, nutrition and digital health.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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