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News

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Gregory Helfrich

Updated 11:28 a.m.:

Santa Clara Sheriff’s detectives have arrested a Los Altos Hills man they suspect repeatedly molested a child decades ago.

Detectives arrested Gregory Helfrich, 54, on a warrant at his Old Page Mill R...

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Schools

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students


Courtesy of Jessica Harell
Blach Intermediate School seventh-grader Paris Harrell, who loves science and animals, recently received a scholarship from the local branch of the AAUW to attend Tech Trek camp.

It’s not every day that a junior hig...

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Community

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner


Federici

Longtime Los Altos resident Mario Federici, who turned 98 Feb. 24, is a man of many languages. He shared his knowledge with thousands of students during his long career as a teacher.

Federici was born and raised in Italy, where he stud...

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Comment

Attend an event, get involved, have fun: Editorial

You don’t have to run for city council to get involved in the community. Sometimes it can be as simple as attending a Los Altos event. You’ll have plenty of opportunities, as the May and June calendars are bustling with activity.

The Dow...

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Special Sections

Racing around Monterey

Racing around Monterey


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The easy handling of the VW Golf R, above, makes for an ideal ride along the Big Sur coast.

 

When automotive journalists are asked to list their favorite places in the world to drive, Monterey alway...

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Business

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations


Courtesy of Eureka
Eureka, a new restaurant in downtown Mountain View, highlights local craft beer and whiskeys on a menu of food spanning from sea to farm.

Craft beer and fancy whiskeys headline the menu at Eureka, the new restaurant that opene...

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People

Stepping Out

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'


Courtesy of Palo Alto Players
The Baker’s Wife, left, and Cinderella’s erstwhile Prince stand out in the Palo Alto Players production of “Into the Woods.”

Little Red Riding Hood sets forth at the outset of “Into the...

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Spiritual Life

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International


Courtesy of Los ALtos United Methodist Church
Hidden Villa will bring some of its farm animals to Los Altos United Methodist Church Sunday to support the nonprofit Heifer International.

Los Altos United Methodist Church is scheduled to salute th...

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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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