Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 99–108 | Cite as

The Effect of Computers for Weight Loss: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Trials

  • Virginia A. Reed
  • Karen E. Schifferdecker
  • Michael E. Rezaee
  • Sharon O’Connor
  • Robin J. Larson
Reviews

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND

The use of computers to deliver education and support strategies has been shown to be effective in a variety of conditions. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate the impact of computer-based technology on interventions for reducing weight.

METHODS

We searched MEDLINE, CENTRAL, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Google Scholar and ClinicalTrials.gov (all updated through June 2010) for randomized controlled trials evaluating the effect of computer-based technology on education or support interventions aimed at reducing weight in overweight or obese adults. We calculated weighted mean differences (WMD) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) using random effects models.

RESULTS

Eleven trials with 13 comparisons met inclusion criteria. Based on six comparisons, subjects who received a computer-based intervention as an addition to the standard intervention given to both groups lost significantly more weight (WMD −1.48 kg, 95% CI −2.52, –0.43). Conversely, based on six comparisons, subjects for whom computer-based technology was substituted to deliver an identical or highly comparable intervention to that of the control group lost significantly less weight (WMD 1.47 kg, 95% CI 0.13, 2.81). Significantly different weight loss seen in “addition” comparisons with less than six months of follow-up (WMD −1.95 kg, 95% CI −3.50, –0.40, two comparisons) was not seen in comparisons with longer follow-up (−1.08 kg, 95% CI −2.50, 0.34, four comparisons). Analyses based on quality and publication date did not substantially differ.

CONCLUSIONS

While the addition of computer-based technology to weight loss interventions led to statistically greater weight loss, the magnitude (<1.5 kg) was small and unsustained.

KEY WORDS

computer-assisted intervention obesity systematic review meta-analysis 

Supplementary material

11606_2011_1803_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (21 kb)
Appendix 1Protocol changes (PDF 21 kb)
11606_2011_1803_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (23 kb)
Appendix 2Inclusion criteria (PDF 23 kb)
11606_2011_1803_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (34 kb)
Appendix 3Search strategies (PDF 33 kb)
11606_2011_1803_MOESM4_ESM.pdf (47 kb)
Appendix 4Data collection form (PDF 47 kb)
11606_2011_1803_MOESM5_ESM.pdf (224 kb)
Appendix 5Methodological quality assessment tool (PDF 223 kb)
11606_2011_1803_MOESM6_ESM.pdf (23 kb)
Appendix 6Supplemental Figures (PDF 23 kb)

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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Virginia A. Reed
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 6
  • Karen E. Schifferdecker
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Michael E. Rezaee
    • 4
  • Sharon O’Connor
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Robin J. Larson
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Dartmouth CollegeHanoverUSA
  2. 2.Center for Program Design & Evaluation at DartmouthHanoverUSA
  3. 3.Dartmouth Medical SchoolHanoverUSA
  4. 4.The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical PracticeLebanonUSA
  5. 5.VA Outcomes Group, Veteran’s Affairs Medical CenterWhite River JunctionUSA
  6. 6.Dartmouth CollegeHanoverUSA

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