The Effect of Computers for Weight Loss: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Trials
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.
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.
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.
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 WORDScomputer-assisted intervention obesity systematic review meta-analysis
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