Fitbit, Zamzee, BodyMedia – there is no shortage of mobile technology and apps that seek to aid individuals losing weight, and we at Medgadget have tried to keep tabs on what is out there. However, while these technologies make intuitive sense (and certainly have a large market in America), there is very little prospective evidence that they actually work.
This past week, however, a randomized controlled trial published in the Archives of Internal Medicine demonstrated that mobile technology, in combination with an existing system of care and telephone coaching, led to more short-term weight loss than a typical weight loss program alone. The study followed 69 overweight and obese people in their late 50s, on average, who were referred to a Veterans Affairs clinic for weight-loss support. The participants were enrolled in 12 group sessions over six months. These sessions focused on nutrition, exercise and behavioral changes. Half of the participants were randomized to receive a personal digital assistant (PDA) to record their food intake and activity throughout the day – the so called “+mobile” group. Additionally, the +mobile group had a coach who checked in with them by phone after the first month of therapy to set personalized weight loss goals.
The trials results were remarkable. As can be seen in the graph, after six months the +mobile group had lost on average 3.9 kg (~8.6 lbs) more than the standard treatment group. Furthermore, 41 percent of the +mobile group had met the goal of losing at least five percent of their initial body weight, compared to 11 percent in the conventional group. Notably, even though PDAs may be out of fashion, smart phones serve the same function for the purposes of the study.
In the article’s commentary, two family practitioners from the University of Chicago note:
Simple, technology-based interventions such as these are appealing because of their affordability, scalability, and convenience. These technologies also allow patients to take charge of their own weight management. Patient self-management is an essential component of the increasingly important patient-centered medical home model of care.
A similar study published in the same issue of Archives showed that a DVD-based program resulted in not only greater weight loss compared with usual care but also comparable weight loss to a more intensive intervention in patients with prediabetes and/or metabolic syndrome.
These two studies provide important evidence that the plethora of weight loss mobile technology can work with the right motivation and supporting programs. We look forward to covering more of these technologies in the future!
Original article in Archives: Integrating Technology Into Standard Weight Loss Treatment: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Article commentary: The Future of Obesity Treatment: Accessible, Inexpensive, and Technology Based? Comment on “Integrating Technology Into Standard Weight Loss Treatment: A Randomized Controlled Trial”