Self-monitoring digital health tools may aid in efficient weight loss; Study

By Shilpa Annie Joseph, Trainee Reporter
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Weight Loss
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Good news for all those who want to lose weight without consulting a dietitian or hitting the gym. A recent research has found that weight loss is associated with self-monitoring by using digital health resources.

The findings of the study were published in ‘Obesity’, The Obesity Society’s flagship journal. A systematic analysis of several randomized controlled trials among overweight or obese adults found that substantial weight loss was correlated with greater involvement in self-monitoring using digital health tools. This is the first thorough systematic study to explore the relationship between weight loss and digital self-monitoring.

“Digital health tools have flourished in the past decade,” said Michele L. Patel, PhD, post-doctoral research fellow, Stanford Prevention Research Center, Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, California.

Digital Health Tool

“What this paper sought out to explore was whether tracking via these digital tools is effective at producing greater weight loss,” added Mr. Patel, who is the corresponding author of the study.

Conducted in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines, the review included 39 randomized controlled studies of behavioral weight-loss strategies using digital health technologies for self-monitoring for adults with overweight or obesity issues. Six databases were searched for studies that included interventions 12 weeks or longer in duration, weight outcomes six months or longer, and outcomes on self-monitoring engagement and their relationship to weight loss.

Among the 67 interventions with digital self-monitoring, weight was tracked in 72 percent of them, diet in 81 percent, and physical activity in 82 percent. The websites were the most common technology tools for self-monitoring, followed by apps, wearables, electronic scales, and text messaging.

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“Digital self-monitoring was linked to weight loss in 74 percent of occurrences. This pattern was found across all three major behaviors that are tracked — dietary intake, physical activity, and body weight,” the researchers said.

Few interventions had digital self-monitoring engagement rates greater than 75 percent of days. Rates were higher in digital tools than in paper-based journals in 21 out of 34 comparisons. “This may be because many digital tools are highly portable, and therefore allow the user to track any time of the day; digital tools also may make tracking quicker and maybe less burdensome to use,” concluded Mr. Patel.

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