Wed10222014

News

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council continues to explore options to address parking constraints in the downtown triangle.

The Los Altos City Council last week held the first of two study sessions to discuss the potential construct...

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Schools

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A Los Altos High School student learns how to use robotic surgical equipment at the school’s Science and Technology Week event last year. Students can also attend hands-on presentations at this year’s event, w...

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Community

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display


Town Crier File Photo
Pirate Manor is once again scheduled to arrive in the front yard of Dane and Jill Glasgow’s home on Manor Way in Los Altos, just in time for Halloween.

Although not the Walking Dead, pirate skeletons have been brought to li...

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Sports

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Eric Reitmeir launches the ball over Mountain View High driver David Niehaus (2) and goalie Kenny Tang. The host Lancers won Friday’s non-league game 9-3.

There wasn’t a lot on the line Friday when ...

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Comment

Reeder, Fung for El Camino HCD: Editorial

The good news for the El Camino Healthcare District (formerly the El Camino Hospital District, for those still getting used to the new name) is that there is a contested election Nov. 4 for the district’s board of directors. Three candidates are runn...

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Special Sections

Plant-based diet offers benefits

Plant-based diet offers benefits


Photo by Ramya Krishna
Los Altos resident Nandini Krishna prepares a meat-free dish According to author Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., M.D., a plant-based diet can help prevent cancer.

Shirley Okita of Los Altos has found that adhering to a mostly plant...

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Business

New shop offers haute couture for girls

New shop offers haute couture for girls


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Girls @ Los Altos at 239 State St. offers clothing lines such as Nellystella as well as toys and other items for girls.

Cecilia Chen opened The Girls @ Los Altos as a tribute to the party dress. Whether it’s for...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

BARBARA DARLING MERIDETH

1946-2014

Born in Palo Alto, raised in Los Altos, retired in southern Oregon. Survived by Peter James Merideth, sons Matthew, Jacob and John Merideth, the loves of her life.

She was a housewife who took great pride in her home, her surroundings and...

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Travel

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors


Courtesy of Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, above, boasts a beautiful setting for viewing fall’s colors – and sampling the vineyard’s wines.

Yes, Virginia, there is fall in California.

The colors pop out in...

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Stepping Out

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn



Los Altos Youth Theatre’s production of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” a musical based on Washington Irving’s classic story, is set to run through Nov. 2 at Bus Barn Theater. The cast comprises 27 young actors, directed by Cindy Powell. Courtesy o...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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Are mobile apps effective for weight management?


Screenshot by Diego Abeloos
Apps like Lose It! by FitNow Inc., above, offer various features such as daily calorie budget calculations.

Mobile apps may be a fun way to track physical activities and diet, but many of them do not include the features most likely to lead to long-term behavior change, according to a key finding in a recently published study conducted by the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute (PAMFRI).

The study, scheduled for publication in the November issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, evaluated mobile apps that target primarily nutrition and weight tracking based on strategies commonly used to guide behavior change.

In the United States, rates of those overweight and obese continue to rise. With 61 percent of U.S. adults owning a smartphone, software apps offer a new and promising approach to behavioral lifestyle intervention.

“Given the thousands of apps available that target diet and weight loss, we were very interested to see if the popular ones included features that we know will help people achieve their long-term health goals,” said Lenard Lesser, M.D., PAMFRI assistant research physician.

In a clinical practice, health-care providers often use well-researched behavioral strategies to help patients eat healthfully. For example, a physician treating overweight patients might have them write down what they eat or weigh themselves every day. Both strategies have shown to be important in weight loss and in promoting lifestyle behavior change.

“The key to a successful app would be one that both keeps users engaged and uses proven behavioral strategies. For any of us to change our behaviors, we have to take little steps and celebrate each one of them,” said Kristen Azar, R.N., assistant nurse researcher at PAMFRI and co-investigator in the study.

PAMFRI investigators assessed 10 of the top-rated free apps in the Health and Fitness category in the iTunes App Store. They evaluated the apps based on the same criteria and categorized them into five groups: diet tracking, grocery decision-making, restaurant decision-making, healthful cooking and weight tracking. Four researchers then evaluated two of the most popular apps from each category based on a scale that measured incorporation of several theories of behavior change. The researchers found that most of the apps scored low, meaning that they lacked features that are likely to lead to long-term healthful habits.

“Our results indicate that many app developers are not including proven behavioral strategies in their apps,” Lesser said. “Without long-term data on whether these apps work, it is hard to recommend them as the solution for poor eating habits. While we await that data, app developers should work with health professionals to make sure that they are making their apps as beneficial as possible.”

The top-rated app in the study was “Lose It!” by FitNow Inc. However, PAMFRI researchers emphasized that different apps may be better suited for different individuals.

“Patients should talk with their providers about which app might be best for them,” Lesser said. “Providers may use the results of this paper when recommending an app for a particular type of patient. Ideally, more app developers will collaborate with medical experts so that the new apps are medically effective and fun.”

For more information, visit pamf.org/research.

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