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News

Obama visits Los Altos area

Obama visits Los Altos area

President Obama made a fundraising stop today at a private residence in Los Altos Hills, an appearance that spurred traffic disruptions, helicopters scouting overhead and protesters. In the wake of his visit, unknown persons, apparently no fans of ...

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Schools

MVLA rolls out laptop integration this fall

MVLA rolls out laptop integration this fall


Town Crier File Photo
Starting in the fall, daily use of laptops in the classroom will be standard operating procedure for students at Los Altos and Mountain View high schools as the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District launches a pil...

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Community

Generations blend behind the scenes at 'Wizard of Oz'

Generations blend behind the scenes at 'Wizard of Oz'


Altos Youth Theatre and Los Altos Stage Company rehearse a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.” ELIZA RIDGEWAY/ TOWN CRIER

A massive troupe of young people and grownups gathered in Los Altos this summer to stage the latest iteration of a childhood sta...

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Sports

Football in July

Football in July


Town Crier file photo
Mountain View High’s Anthony Avery is among the nine local players slated to play in tonight’s Silicon Valley Youth Classic.

Tonight’s 40th annual Silicon Valley Youth Classic – also known as the Charlie...

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Comment

Pools should be included: Editorial

Los Altos residents should be receiving calls this week from city representatives conducting a survey to determine priorities for a revamped Hillview Community Center.

Notice that we did not say “civic center” – chastened by a lack of public support...

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Special Sections

Looking for life without lows, local diabetic tests artificial pancreas

Looking for life without lows, local diabetic tests artificial pancreas


Photo by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Dr. Trang Ly, left, reviews blood sugar readings on a smartphone with Los Altos resident Tia Geri, right, and fellow participant Noa Simon during a closed-loop artificial pancreas study for Type 1 diabetics.
...

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Business

Palo Alto law firm coming to 400 Main

Palo Alto law firm coming to 400 Main


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Longtime Palo Alto law firm Thoits, Love, Hershberger & McClean plans to open an office at 400 Main St. in Los Altos after construction is complete in November.

A longtime Palo Alto law firm plans to expand into L...

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Books

"Frozen in Time" chronicles harrowing WWII rescue attempts


Many readers can’t resist a true-life adventure story, especially those that shine a spotlight on people who exhibit supreme courage in the face of adversity and end up surviving – or not – against the odds.

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People

RICHARD PATRICK BRENNAN

RICHARD PATRICK BRENNAN

Resident of Palo Alto

Richard Patrick Brennan, journalist, editor, author, adventurer, died at his Palo Alto home on July 4, 2014 at age 92. He led a full life, professionally and personally. He was born and raised in San Francisco, joined the Arm...

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Travel

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway


Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton in Lake Tahoe offers fall getaway packages that include spa treatments and yoga classes.

Fall in North Lake Tahoe boasts crisp mornings and opportunities to spend quality time in the mountains. Specially ...

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Stepping Out

PYT stages 'Shrek'

PYT stages 'Shrek'


Lyn Healy/Spotlight Moments Photography
Dana Cullinane plays Fiona in Peninsula Youth Theatre’s “Shrek The Musical.”

Peninsula Youth Theatre presents “Shrek The Musical” Saturday through Aug. 3 at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts...

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Spiritual Life

Foothills Congregational: 100 years and counting

Foothills Congregational: 100 years and counting


Courtesy of Carolyn Barnes
The newly built Los Altos church in 1914 featured a bell tower and an arched front window. Both continue as elements of the building as it stands today.

Foothills Congregational Church – the oldest church building ...

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Magazine

Festival features fun for everyone

Festival features fun for everyone


TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival boasts more than 375 craft and arts booths.

This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The eve...

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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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