Using mobile phone apps in weight-loss programs

Design and pilot results of a mobile phone weight-loss application for women starting a meal replacement programme

From Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare

Mobile phones using text messaging and monitoring have been shown to be useful additions to health programs. The objective of this study was to develop and evaluate a weight-loss intervention delivered by a smartphone app that supported individuals embarking on a diet and that was evidenced-based. Researchers developed and tested a mobile phone application (app) to support individuals embarking on a partial meal replacement program (MRP).

Overweight or obese women were randomly allocated to one of two study groups an intervention group and a control group. The intervention group received an MRP Support app. The control group received a static app based on the information available with the MRP. A total of 58 adult women) participated in the 8-week trial. Objective data suggested that users of the Support app were more engaged than those using the control app.  Women in the intervention group reported a greater increase in positive affect (i.e. mood) than those in the control group. At Week 8, those in the control group reported a greater decrease in the effort they were willing to put into staying on the diet than those who received the Support app  Preliminary data suggests that the MRP Support app has the potential to increase positive mood and maintain motivation during a weight loss programme. This study indicates that the support app could be a useful adjunct to existing MRPs for psychological outcomes.

 

Abstract

We developed and tested a mobile phone application (app) to support individuals embarking on a partial meal replacement programme (MRP). Overweight or obese women were randomly allocated to one of two study groups. The intervention group received an MRP Support app. The control group received a static app based on the information available with the MRP. A total of 58 adult women (Support n = 28; Control n = 30) participated in the 8-week trial. Their BMI was 26–43 kg/m2. Usage data suggested that the intervention group were more engaged with using the app throughout the study period. Mixed modelling revealed that the difference in weight loss between the intervention and control groups (estimated mean, EM = 3.2% and 2.2% respectively) was not significant (P = 0.08). Objective data suggested that users of the Support app were more engaged than those using the control app. A total of 1098 prompts (54%) asking people in the intervention group to enter their meals were completed prior to the evening prompt. Women in the intervention group reported a greater increase in positive affect (i.e. mood) than those in the control group (EM = 0.48 and −0.01, respectively) (P = 0.012). At Week 8, those in the control group reported a greater decrease in the effort they were willing to put into staying on the diet than those who received the Support app (EM = −2.8 and −1.4, respectively) (P = 0.024). The Support app could be a useful adjunct to existing MRPs for psychological outcomes.

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Article details

Title:

Design and pilot results of a mobile phone weight-loss application for women starting a meal replacement programme

Details:

DOI 10.1177/1357633X13479702 Published online before print 21 March 2013,

Journal:

Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare

Authors:

Emily Brindal, Gilly Hendrie, Jill Freyne, Mac Coombe, Shlomo Berkovsky, and Manny Noakes

     
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