Tweets, Apps, and Pods: Results of the 6-month Mobile Pounds Off Digitally (Mobile POD) randomized weight-loss intervention among adults

J Med Internet Res. 2011 Dec 20;13(4):e120. doi: 10.2196/jmir.1841.


Background: Previous interventions have shown promising results using theory-based podcasts to deliver a behavioral weight-loss intervention.

Objective: The objective of our study was to examine whether a combination of podcasting, mobile support communication, and mobile diet monitoring can assist people in weight loss.

Methods: In this 6-month, minimal contact intervention, overweight (n = 96, body mass index 32.6 kg/m(2)) adults were recruited through television advertisements and email listservs and randomly assigned to Podcast-only or Podcast+Mobile groups. Both groups received 2 podcasts per week for 3 months and 2 minipodcasts per week for months 3-6. In addition to the podcasts, the Podcast+Mobile group was also instructed to use a diet and physical activity monitoring application (app) on their mobile device and to interact with study counselors and other participants on Twitter.

Results: Weight loss did not differ by group at 6 months: mean -2.7% (SD 5.6%) Podcast+Mobile, n = 47; mean -2.7% (SD 5.1%) Podcast, n = 49; P = .98. Days/week of reported diet monitoring did not differ between Podcast+Mobile (mean 2.3, SD 1.9 days/week) and Podcast groups (mean 1.9, SD 1.7 days/week; P = .28) but method of monitoring did differ. Podcast+Mobile participants were 3.5 times more likely than the Podcast group to use an app to monitor diet (P = .01), whereas the majority of Podcast participants reported using the Web (14/41, 34%) or paper (12/41, 29%). There were more downloads per episode in the Podcast+Mobile group (1.4/person) than in the Podcast group (1.1/person; P < .001). The number of podcasts participants reported downloading over the 6-month period was significantly moderately correlated with weight loss in both the Podcast+Mobile (r = -.46, P = .001) and the Podcast (r = -.53, P < .001) groups. Podcast+Mobile participants felt more user control at 3 months (P = .02), but not at 6 months, and there was a trend (P = .06) toward greater elaboration among Podcast+Mobile participants. There were significant differences in reported source of social support between groups. More Podcast participants relied on friends (11/40, 28% vs 4/40, 10%; P = .045) whereas Podcast+Mobile participants relied on online sources (10/40, 25% vs 0/40; P = .001).

Conclusions: Results confirm and extend previous findings showing a minimally intensive weight-loss intervention can be delivered via podcast, but prompting and mobile communication via Twitter and monitoring app without feedback did not enhance weight loss.

Trial registration: NCT01139255; (Archived by WebCite at

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blogging*
  • Cell Phone*
  • Diet
  • Electronic Mail
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity
  • Webcasts as Topic*
  • Weight Reduction Programs / methods*

Associated data