Science and Technology

Digital self-monitoring linked to weight-loss in 74% of occurrences: Study

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on March 02, 2021

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Findings showed websites to be the most common self-monitoring tech tools, followed by apps, wearables, electronic scales, text messaging; no studies used social media platforms for self-monitoring

Greater engagement with self-monitored digital health tools can help reduce weight significantly, says a study published in the journal Obesity.

The authors of the study stated that this is the first comprehensive study that was carried out by a systematic review of digital self-monitoring and weight-loss.

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

She added: “What this paper sought out to explore was whether tracking via these digital tools is effective at producing greater weight loss.”

For the study, the researchers reviewed 39 randomised controlled studies of behavioural weight-loss interventions for overweighted adults using digital health technologies for self-monitoring.

The study was carried out in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines.

Among the 67 interventions with digital self-monitoring, weight was tracked in 72 per cent of them, diet in 81 per cent, and physical activity in 82 per cent.

The findings indicated that websites were the most common self-monitoring technology tools. This was followed by apps, wearables, electronic scales, and text messaging. No studies used social media platforms for self-monitoring.

Furthermore, the study suggested that digital self-monitoring was linked to weight-loss in 74 per cent of occurrences. This was the highest common pattern found across all three major behaviours that were tracked (dietary intake, physical activity, and body weight).

A few interventions had digital self-monitoring engagement rates greater than 75 per cent of days. The rates were higher in digital tools than in paper-based journals in 21 out of 34 comparisons, the study noted.

“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 may be less burdensome to use,” Patel added.

Published on March 01, 2021

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