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Digital Self-Monitoring Linked to Weight Loss for Adults

FRIDAY, Feb. 26, 2021 -- Digital self-monitoring is associated with weight loss in behavioral interventions for overweight or obesity, according to a review published online Feb. 23 in Obesity.

Michele L. Patel, Ph.D., from the Stanford University School of Medicine in California, and colleagues conducted a systematic review to examine digital self-monitoring in behavioral weight loss interventions among adults with overweight or obesity. Data were included from 39 studies from 2009 to 2019.

Of the 67 interventions with digital self-monitoring, weight, diet, and physical activity were tracked in 72, 81, and 82 percent, respectively. The researchers found that the most common self-monitoring modality was websites, followed by mobile applications, wearables, electronic scales, and text messaging. Digital self-monitoring engagement rates ≥75 percent of days were seen for few interventions. In 21 of 34 comparisons, rates were higher in digital-based than paper-based arms, while rates were lower in two comparisons. Similar rates were seen for interventions with counseling and standalone interventions. In 74 percent of cases, greater digital monitoring was linked to weight loss.

"Adults with overweight or obesity should be encouraged to self-monitor frequently in order to promote weight loss," the authors write. "Through regular self-monitoring, individuals can gain increased awareness about their eating and exercise behaviors, which allows them to track progress over time and compare that progress with prespecified goals."

One author disclosed financial ties to the weight loss and health industries.

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