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We had the pleasure to talk with Charles Teague, the CEO of the company that made the popular calorie counting app 'Lose It!', and ask him several questions about the app, as well as the company's future plans.

Millions of Americans every year try to lose weight through exercise and diet; two methods that can be helpful when trying to reach a healthy weight. 
However, counting calories is not easy, and could be almost impossible without some sort of assistance. Luckily, there are many weight loss and activity tracker apps available for mobile devices that can be utilized as tools for counting calories.
One of the most famous apps for this counting calories is the 'Lose It!' app that also helps users track their weight goals and activity.

Last year, we reviewed the 'Lose It!' app, giving it a favorable score and our recommendation. 
We also had the pleasure to talk with Charles Teague, the CEO of the company that made the 'Lose It!' app, and ask him several questions about the app, as well as the company's future plans.

Can you tell us the story behind your mobile app? Where did the idea for your app come from? What served as your inspiration for the app?

In 2008 my business partner, JJ Allaire, was looking for a better method to track his diet other than through an excel sheet on his desktop computer, so he created the mobile app Lose It! At the same time, I  was looking for an opportunity that would allow me to make a big impact on the world. Both of us could see the rising trend of mobile phone usage so we started a company around the app that JJ had created. The app has evolved to help combat the growing obesity rates in the United States and has remained dedicated to helping each member achieve their healthy weight.

How did you build the content that's contained in the app? Does the information in your app come from evidence-based resources, such as scientific literature, peer-reviewed articles and case studies?

The core of the 'Lose It!' app is the calorie budget that is given to each user upon enrolling for the app. We collect the user's height, weight, age and gender and use the Mifflin-St Jeor equation to calculate the resting metabolic rate for that user.    

What impact has your app had on clinical practice so far? We'd appreciate if you could share some stats on how frequently your app is used worldwide.

Lose It! has been used by millions of people around the world to help make smarter food decisions and track their weight loss progress. The app has been one of the top weight loss apps in both the iTunes and Google Play stores and has been downloaded over 35 million times. Our members have logged over 68 million pounds lost using Lose It!. Although Lose It! is not a medical app, some of our members are recommended to try the product by their Doctor or Healthcare Professional.

What are the tools and technologies used to build your mobile app (both cloud- and client-side)? Was it native or cross-platform development? Did you consider other technologies?

We have both iOS and Android version of the Lose It! app. They are both built using native technology for each platform. In addition, we use a variety of technologies in the cloud to enable core experiences such as food search or our social features.

We place an emphasis on a wonderful user experience. Choosing native approaches to our mobile applications has enabled us to create the very best experiences without compromise.

What were the main challenges you had to overcome when developing your app? Could you please single out the biggest technical challenges, product challenges, marketing challenges, and support challenges?

One of the biggest challenges the company faced in the early days was the scaling of the food database. We had to optimize for either the quality of the food entries or the size of the database. Even after that initial challenge, scaling the database to our growing population has been a challenge for us throughout the last ten years.

Could you single out the 3 biggest mistakes you made when developing the 'Lose It!' app?

The biggest mistake we made while building Lose It! was not changing our food database model quickly enough. We incorrectly thought that members would prefer a more accurate food database to a broader one, and should have pivoted our strategy faster than we did.

When it comes to medical apps, sooner or later the issue of data protection and security always comes up. How do you make sure that user data is secure?

We collect user data on an as-needed basis, and strive to only collect and store the data that's necessary to give our customers a good product experience with Lose It!. We also follow the industry standards for data protection and security.

What's next for your app? Are there any new features, functionalities, or upgrades planned for future updates?

We prioritize upgrades and features to the app that help our members be more successful. We've recently released a feature that analyzes a picture of food to make the logging experience easier. We are taking this one step further, and are using the camera technology to read nutrition labels to make adding a food with complete nutrition information as easy as taking a picture. 

Last year, we launched embodyDNA, a nutrigenomics product that provides personalized DNA-based suggestions to users. We plan to keep a focus on the key parts of both of these products that help members achieve more success.

We are excited about the technologies and what they might hold for the healthcare and the future of medicine. What do you think this technology-driven, human-centered future holds for mobile health and how do your app plan to contribute?

We've found that our members are more successful when they have more information that's actionable and easy to implement. We're excited about the future technologies that help us deliver that to customers; developments like artificial intelligence and augmented reality we think will have a big impact on our customers' success.

Could you share some word of advice with other mobile app developers? What steps they should follow in order to make a successful app?

I think the key to any successful product is to keep a focus on making a really good product. It's easy to get distracted with hot new trends, lots of marketing, or fancy packaging. But the most important thing a company can do to succeed is to make a product their customers love.

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