Ontrack: Development and feasibility of a smartphone app designed to predict and prevent dietary lapses

Evan M. Forman, Stephanie P. Goldstein, Fengqing Zhang, Brittney C. Evans, Stephanie M. Manasse, Meghan L. Butryn, Adrienne S. Juarascio, Pramod Abichandani, Gerald J. Martin, Gary D. Foster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Given that the overarching goal of weight loss programs is to remain adherent to a dietary prescription, specific moments of nonadherence known as “dietary lapses” can threaten weight control via the excess energy intake they represent and by provoking future lapses. Just-in-time adaptive interventions could be particularly useful in preventing dietary lapses because they use real-time data to generate interventions that are tailored and delivered at a moment computed to be of high risk for a lapse. To this end, we developed a smartphone application (app) called OnTrack that utilizes machine learning to predict dietary lapses and deliver a targeted intervention designed to prevent the lapse from occurring. This study evaluated the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary effectiveness of OnTrack among weight loss program participants. An open trial was conducted to investigate subjective satisfaction, objective usage, algorithm performance, and changes in lapse frequency and weight loss among individuals (N = 43; 86% female; body mass index = 35.6 kg/m2) attempting to follow a structured online weight management plan for 8 weeks. Participants were adherent with app prompts to submit data, engaged with interventions, and reported high levels of satisfaction. Over the course of the study, participants averaged a 3.13% weight loss and experienced a reduction in unplanned lapses. OnTrack, the first Just-in-time adaptive intervention for dietary lapses was shown to be feasible and acceptable, and OnTrack users experienced weight loss and lapse reduction over the study period. These data provide the basis for further development and evaluation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)236-245
Number of pages10
JournalTranslational behavioral medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


  • Diet
  • Digital
  • Lapses
  • Smartphone app
  • Weight


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