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Cyber tools foster fitness

There’s a wide variety of websites and mobile applications for tablets and smartphones aimed at keeping people on track with their food and fitness goals.

Here’s a small sampling:

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Lose It!: The Boston-grown tracker logs net calories, has an online interface that echoes Facebook, and includes a bar-code scanner handy for tracking calories on packaged food. Kevin McCoy, vice president for business development, said the Lose It! mobile application has been downloaded more than 10 million times since 2008 and hundreds of thousands of people use the program regularly, engaging through the site’s forums and their network of Lose It! “friends.’’ The company recently partnered with the Boston YMCA to track members’ weight loss in a six-week challenge. The Lose It! tracking application will remain free as the company rolls out new features in the coming months, McCoy said.

SparkPeople: This site has more layers to it. In addition to food and fitness tracking, it offers several ways to track overall weight and motivational goals, including a SparkStreaks section that counts how many consecutive days a user hits a target, such as doing a cardio workout. It also has an active user community and a mobile application. There’s a feature for saving grocery lists and users earn SparkPoints for logging in, tracking their day, and exploring the website. Users can reward themselves with virtual gifts, called SparkGoodies, or send one to another member.

SuperTracker: The US Department of Agriculture created its own food and fitness tracker and launched it Dec. 22. SuperTracker has about 225,000 registered users, with more signing up each day, said Dr. Robert Post, deputy director of the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. Its food encyclopedia and calorie calculator use information from the federal food composition database, which analyzes actual food products rather than relying on reported nutritional facts. The site does not calculate net calories because, Post said, that’s difficult to do in a way that is scientifically sound. It does allow users to set and track weekly fitness goals. Post said he hopes to release mobile applications by the end of next year.

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