MONDAY, Dec. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Using smartphones to coach people as they try to shed extra pounds may make a standard weight-loss program more effective, a new study suggests.
With the technology, patients can report their progress and receive coaching between visits to the clinic. This personalized attention appears to improve results, the researchers reported.
"Having patients record eating and activity on a mobile app that's monitored by a coach is a scalable, cost-effective way to boost the effectiveness of clinician-directed weight-loss treatment," said study author Bonnie Spring, a professor of preventive medicine and psychiatry at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
"An app can give people feedback about how many calories they're eating, and help them make wise choices in the moment. Knowing that a coach is 'hovering' and watching the patient's behavior is a way of supportively holding the person accountable," she added.
Taking classes is an efficient way for patients to connect with peers while acquiring knowledge about nutrition, exercise and behavior change strategies, Spring added.
"Reconfiguring weight-loss treatment to systematically leverage clinician expertise, technology and peer support offers a practical and effective way to help the large number of people who need obesity treatment," she said.
The report was published online Dec. 10 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
For the study, Spring's team randomly assigned 69 overweight and obese patients, average age about 58, to a standard weight-loss program or a weight-loss program with smartphone prompting, and followed the volunteers for a year. They were weighed at three, six, nine and 12 months.
At each weigh-in, patients who were coached using smartphones lost an average of 8.6 pounds more than those in the standard weight-loss progr
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