Review of Innovations in Digital Health Technology to Promote Weight Control
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Advances in technology have contributed to the obesity epidemic and worsened health by reducing opportunities for physical activity and by the proliferation of inexpensive calorie-dense foods. However, much of the same technology can be used to counter these troublesome trends by fostering the development and maintenance of healthy eating and physical activity habits. In contrast to intensive face-to-face treatments, technology-based interventions also have the potential to reach large numbers of individuals at low cost. The purpose of this review is to discuss studies in which digital technology has been used for behavioral weight control, report on advances in consumer technology that are widely adopted but insufficiently tested, and explore potential future directions for both. Web-based, mobile (eg, smartphone), virtual reality, and gaming technologies are the focus of discussion. The best evidence exists to support the use of digital technology for self-monitoring of weight-related behaviors and outcomes. However, studies are underway that will provide additional, important information regarding how best to apply digital technology for behavioral weight control.
KeywordsObesity Technology Diet Physical activity Digital health mHealth eHealth Weight control
Dr. Thomas is supported by NIDDK R01 DK095779, NHLBI R41 HL114046, and a grant from Weight Watchers International, Inc. Dr. Bond is supported by NINDS R01 NS077925, NIDDK R03 DK095740, and NIDDK K01 DK083438, and a grant from Weight Watchers International, Inc.
Compliance with Ethics Guidelines
Conflict of Interest
J. Graham Thomas is paid by Weight Watchers International, Inc. to give expert feedback on their weight loss intervention systems. He is also is paid by MEI Research to give expert feedback on their electronic systems for measuring and intervening on health behaviors, and to advise MEI Research on research methods & design and grant preparation. Dale S. Bond declares that he has no conflict of interest.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent
This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.
Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance
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