Technology-assisted weight management interventions: systematic review of clinical trials

Telemed J E Health. 2014 Dec;20(12):1103-20. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2014.0030.


Introduction: More than one-third of U.S. adults are obese, which greatly increases their risks for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some types of cancer. Busy healthcare professionals need effective tools and strategies to facilitate healthy eating and increase physical activity, thus promoting weight loss in their patients. Communication technologies such as the Internet and mobile devices offer potentially powerful methodologies to deliver behavioral weight loss interventions, and researchers have studied a variety of technology-assisted approaches.

Materials and methods: The literature from 2002 to 2012 was systematically reviewed by examining clinical trials of technology-assisted interventions for weight loss or weight maintenance among overweight and obese adults.

Results: In total, 2,011 citations from electronic databases were identified; 39 articles were eligible for inclusion. Findings suggest that the use of technology-assisted behavioral interventions, particularly those that incorporate text messaging or e-mail, may be effective for producing weight loss among overweight and obese adults.

Conclusions: Only a small percentage of the 39 studies reviewed used mobile platforms such as Android(®) (Google, Mountain View, CA) phones or the iPhone(®) (Apple, Cupertino, CA), only two studies incorporated cost analysis, none was able to identify which features were most responsible for changes in outcomes, and few reported long-term outcomes. All of these areas are important foci for future research.

Keywords: randomized trial; technology; weight loss.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cell Phone
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mobile Applications
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Overweight / therapy
  • Telemedicine*
  • United States
  • Weight Reduction Programs*