Weight-related complications are claiming the lives of around 3,4-million people each year and many blame technology as it causes a decline in people’s physical activity. But, AMR SHADY says that the increase in health related mobile apps could help users lead a healthier lifestyle.
With weight-related complications claiming the lives of around 3.4 million adults annually, demand is rising for thousands of mobile applications used daily to track calories, activity levels and vital health signs such as heartrate and blood pressure.
“Helping consumers choose healthy diets” is this year’s theme of the World Consumer Rights Day. Marking Sunday March 15, the event aims at bringing into spotlight the dangers of unhealthy diets, focusing on consumers’ rights to healthy food. The population of obese people reached 600 million in 2014 to comprise 31 percent of the total 1.9 billion overweight adults, according to the World Health Organisation. Overeating poses more threats to health than eating poorly across the world; the only exception would be famine-hit regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa.
While many blame technology for such alarming statistics along with the considerable decline in people’s physical activity, the growing number of health and fitness mobile applications could help mobile users lead a healthier life. Yet another proof that disruptive mobile technologies can positively impact people’s lives; helping them avoid obesity health complications including heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.
Data points derived from mobile app analytics signal that consumer health consciousness is undergoing massive transformation. A study published by the app analytics provider Flurry revealed that the first half of 2014 witnessed a “stunning” 62 percent increase in health and fitness app usage. The study also reported that there are over 6,800 apps under the health and fitness category on the App Store.
There are more than 3.6 billion mobile phone subscribers in the world today, and the number is expected to surge by 1 billion over the next five years to reach 4.6 billion by 2020, according to ‘The Mobile Economy: 2015’ report, issued by GSMA at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) held earlier this month.
People are more connected than ever before with access to massive amounts of data at a click of button. In their quest to shed weight and lead a healthy life, mobile users download apps that monitor their vitals, and track their eating and exercise habits. The integration of such apps with social media further empowers users as they connect with each other on this health-seeking journey.
“Friends can cheer each other on, like and share their achievements and even start competing against each other. This innovation has increased the viral distribution of these apps through the social networking channel,” says Flurry’s report which cites MapMyFitness as a “great example” of an app that is well-integrated with Facebook.
Maintaining health and losing weight is easier with support. Mobile apps that allow dieters to share their successes and failures with others via social networks have a higher chance of producing more successful results. The use of social media in weight loss and health management allows users to post their goals for everyone to see, adding the benefit of accountability to the journey.
Mobile app users can also keep a virtual diary that tracks what they eat and their level of activity.
There are plenty of great free apps that can help people get into shape and cut out foods they may not even realize are seriously unhealthy. The following figure (retrieved on March 11) shows the top 10 ranking free health and fitness apps on appfigures.com. MyFitnessPal app ranks first on the U.S. iPhone and Amazon app stores. The application tracks calories, keeps a food diary and has a database of over 5 million foods.
A recent study by the “Archives of Internal Medicine” suggests that those who use mobile apps to track their eating habits and count calories generally lose more weight than those who don’t. The proliferation and success of mobile health and fitness apps is paving the way for the fast adoption of wearable technologies that serve the same cause. The Apple Watch, recently introduced to the market, promises to provide consumers with a full picture of their daily activity. The watch’s Activity app promises to “help motivate you to sit less, move more, and get some exercise.”
Mobile and wearable technology offer great support to people who want to lose weight and stay fit. But when it comes to adopting a healthy lifestyle, a commitment to eat better and healthier, is the first step towards creating a new, happier person.
* Amr Shady is the founder and chairman of TA telecom.
* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA
How we use phones to avoid human contact
A recent study by Kaspersky Lab has found that 75% of people pick up their connected device to avoid conversing with another human being.
Connected devices are becoming essential to keeping people in contact with each other, but for many they are also a much-needed comfort blanket in a variety of social situations when they do not want to interact with others. A recent survey from Kaspersky Lab has confirmed this trend in behaviour after three-quarters of people (75%) admitted they use a device to pretend to be busy when they don’t want to talk to someone else, showing the importance of keeping connected devices protected under all circumstances.
Imagine you’ve arrived at a bar and you’re waiting for your date. The bar is busy, and people are chatting all around you. What do you do now? Strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know? Grab your phone from your pocket or handbag until your date arrives to keep yourself busy? Why talk to humans or even make eye-contact with someone else when you can stare at your connected device instead?
The truth is, our use of devices is making it much easier to avoid small talk or even be polite to those around us, and new Kaspersky Lab research has found that 72% of people use one when they do not know what to do in a social situation. They are also the ‘go-to’ distraction for people even when they aren’t trying to look busy or avoid someone’s eye. 46% of people admit to using a device just to kill time every day and 44% use it as a daily distraction.
In addition to just being a distraction, devices are also a lifeline to those who would rather not talk directly to another person in day-to-day situations, to complete essential tasks. In fact, nearly a third (31%) of people would prefer to carry out tasks such as ordering a taxi or finding directions to where they need to go via a website and an app, because they find it an easier experience than speaking with another person.
Whether they are helping us avoid direct contact or filling a void in our daily lives, our constant reliance on devices has become a cause for panic when they become unusable. A third (34%) of people worry that they will not be able to entertain themselves if they cannot access a connected device. 12% are even concerned that they won’t be able to pretend to be busy if their device is out of action.
Dmitry Aleshin, VP for Product Marketing, Kaspersky Lab said, “The reliance on connected devices is impacting us in more ways than we could have ever expected. There is no doubt that being connected gives us the freedom to make modern life easier, but devices are also vital to help people get through different and difficult social situations. No matter what your ‘connection crutch’ is, it is essential to make sure your device is online and available when you need it most.”
To ensure your device lifeline is always there and in top health – no matter what the reason or situation – Kaspersky Security Cloud keeps your connection safe and secure:
· I want to use my device while waiting for a friend – is it secure to access the bar’s Wi-Fi?
With Kaspersky Security Cloud, devices are protected against network threats, even if the user needs to use insecure public Wi-Fi hotspots. This is done through transferring data via an encrypted channel to ensure personal data safety, so users’ devices are protected on any connection.
· Oh no! I’m bored but my phone’s battery is getting low – what am I going to do?
Users can track their battery level thanks to a countdown of how many minutes are left until their device shuts down in the Kaspersky Security Cloud interface. There is also a wide-range of portable power supplies available to keep device batteries charged while on-the-go.
· I’ve lost my phone! How will I keep myself entertained now?
Should the unthinkable happen and you lose or have your phone stolen, Kaspersky Security Cloud can track and protect your device from data breaches, for complete peace of mind. Remote lock and locate features ensure your device remains secure until you are reunited.
Five key biometric facts
Due to their uniqueness, fingerprints are being used more and more to quickly identify and ensure the security of customers. CLAUDE LANGLEY, Regional Sales Manager, for Africa at HID Global Biometrics, outlines five facts about the technology.
How many times in a day are you expected to identify yourself? From when you arrive at work you are required to sign in, visiting your bank, receiving healthcare services… The list is endless. When a system knows who you are, you are able to do any number common, everyday activities. Your identity is unique and precious. It is also easily stolen and the target of many hackers across the globe. Technology is constantly evolving alongside the criminal element, always looking for ways to protect data and identity. One such solution happens to be biometrics and it is rapidly gaining traction in our increasingly complex modern world.
Reliable, secure and fundamentally YOU, unique biometric traits such as fingerprints are being used by banks, enterprises and consumers to verify identity. Biometric solutions offer significant identity protection because they use unique biological details to ensure an account is only accessed by the account holder, a door only opened by the owner. Here are five things that are little known about this technology…
- The uncut identity. Your fingerprint is unique to you. Nobody can use a copy of it to impersonate you. Good technology is capable of scanning down into the layers of the fingertip to differentiate unique elements of a person’s fingerprint, this data is then encrypted and used as a key to unlocking whichever physical or virtual door that the biometric system protects.
- The living proof. No, there is nothing to the stories of fingerprints being used without their owner’s knowledge or permission. Biometric solutions can use specific variables to determine if the finger used to access the system is that of a present, living person. A copy or a fake cannot be used to access a cutting-edge biometric solution.
- Easy and convenient. Queues and documents and paperwork may well be a thing of the past should biometrics take a firmer grip of government and banking systems. The process of registering is easy, and access to identity documents and records is yours alone.
- Security blanket. A thousand passwords and a hundred post-it notes stuck on walls and drawers. An excel file with a list of sites and applications and their corresponding passwords, all a thing of the past. Nobody needs to remember their password with biometrics, they only need to show up.
- Anywhere is cool. Schools, airports, networks, offices, homes, toilets, banks, libraries, governments, border controls, immigration services, call centres, hospitals and even clubs and pubs – knowing “who” matters and biometrics can quickly and conveniently confirm your identity where needed.