Information Technology and Lifestyle: A Systematic Evaluation of Internet and Mobile Interventions for Improving Diet, Physical Activity, Obesity, Tobacco, and Alcohol Use

J Am Heart Assoc. 2016 Aug 31;5(9):e003058. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.115.003058.


Background: Novel interventions are needed to improve lifestyle and prevent noncommunicable diseases, the leading cause of death and disability globally. This study aimed to systematically review, synthesize, and grade scientific evidence on effectiveness of novel information and communication technology to reduce noncommunicable disease risk.

Methods and results: We systematically searched PubMed for studies evaluating the effect of Internet, mobile phone, personal sensors, or stand-alone computer software on diet, physical activity, adiposity, tobacco, or alcohol use. We included all interventional and prospective observational studies conducted among generally healthy adults published between January 1990 and November 2013. American Heart Association criteria were used to evaluate and grade the strength of evidence. From 8654 abstracts, 224 relevant reports were identified. Internet and mobile interventions were most common. Internet interventions improved diet (N=20 studies) (Class IIa A), physical activity (N=33), adiposity (N=35), tobacco (N=22), and excess alcohol (N=47) (Class I A each). Mobile interventions improved physical activity (N=6) and adiposity (N=3) (Class I A each). Evidence limitations included relatively brief durations (generally <6 months, nearly always <1 year), heterogeneity in intervention content and intensity, and limited representation from middle/low-income countries.

Conclusions: Internet and mobile interventions improve important lifestyle behaviors up to 1 year. This systematic review supports the need for long-term interventions to evaluate sustainability.

Keywords: Internet; alcohol; diet; mobile; obesity; physical activity; smoking.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / therapy*
  • Diet, Healthy*
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Information Technology
  • Internet*
  • Life Style
  • Mobile Applications*
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Text Messaging*
  • Therapy, Computer-Assisted
  • Tobacco Smoking / therapy*