App of the day: Weight Watchers review (iPad/iPhone)

A new year normally means a new start. Better person, better body, more organised. Well, for about five days until you realise that actually, doing nothing and eating the contents of your entire fridge is a far more satisfying experience than running in the freezing cold.

So with the new year motivation long gone, and summer allegedly on its way, what do you do? Crack out the Wii Fit for it to tell you it hasn't seen you in a year? Go to the gym and wipe the sweat of the previous person off the machine? Maybe not.

You could just monitor your food intake using a point system and an app on your iPad or iPhone. If it's good enough for Gregg Wallace, it's good enough for App of the day on Pocket-lint. Cooking doesn't get tougher than this (sorry).

Weight Watchers

Format
iPad/iPhone
Price
Free (but you need to be a member)
Where
iTunes

There are plenty of big-name apps that want to target weight loss or food and exercise tracking. From sports apps, like Nike+, through to literally hundreds of food trackers, there's no end of choice in health apps. Weight Watchers, however, has something of an esablishment behind it. It has a name and there's a community beyond the app, which might appeal - meaning the experience doesn't end with the app, it's there in the real world too.

Getting started is easy. You enter your starting weight, your goal weight and even your measurements if you want to. You then select the day you want to track your weight. The app will work out your daily points allowance based on what you enter each day after you tell it what you have consumed, which alone can make you feel guilty.

Week by week a chart shows you your weight loss (or gain) and congratulates you even if you lose 0.1lb. There's nothing quite like positive feedback from a computer.

It features more than 30,000 foods as well as a variety of restaurants, so finding your food isn't a challenge. A Wagamama Chicken Katsu Curry, for example, equates to 30 points, which is four more than the average woman is allowed in a day.

But Weight Watchers isn't only about the ladies, as highlighted through Weight Watchers' latest run of advertising: male or female, you still eat food. A Mars Bar is 8 points, a pint of lager 6 points. But fruit and vegetables are 0, as are diet fizzy drinks, and you'll find your way as soon as you get started hunting for foods.

A handy feature is the calculator. If you can't find the food or drink you are looking for in the list, you can enter the nutritional information into the calculator and it works out the points, so even if you're munching on something obscure, the app will have you covered.

Other features include a featured recipes section with success stories (you know, the "I was 50 stone and I fitted into my size 8 wedding dress", "I'm now a marathon runner"), featured recipes showing the amount of points, and articles like "I'm more me now, I've got a wiggle in my walk". A cheat sheets section helps you estimate recommended portion sizes with different parts of your hand, as well as work out points for pizza, pasta, cocktails and salad by adding toppings to an animated picture.

There is also a shopping list section and a meeting finder where typing in your postcode lets you find one of the 6,000 meetings nearest you, consisting of 30-minutes weigh-in time and 30 minute group discussion. Perhaps the most rewarding section is the activities tracker. Each activity, whether football or walking, has a point equivalent. So eat a Mars Bar, but power walk for 2 hours, you earn eight activity points.

With quick adds, favourites and recently added tabs, as well as a personal reminder section, Weight Watchers is a quick and easy app to help monitor what you eat and shed the excess pounds.

The only downsides are you have to be a Weight Watchers member to use it and you can't change your weight tracking day using the app. But all in all, it is nice and simple to use, well designed and great for making you think more closely about what you eat.