Handheld Electronic Technology for Weight Loss in Overweight/Obese Adults
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Handheld electronic devices could offer a convenient and scalable platform with which to deliver a weight loss intervention. This paper aims to summarise the evidence provided by randomised trials of such interventions. There is heterogeneity among trials in terms of the components of the intervention package, the theoretical framework, the comparison groups and the duration of follow-up. While in the short term (<6 months) trials have shown some promising findings, two trials (one of a text message intervention and one of a PDA device for dietary self-monitoring) do not indicate clinically significant weight loss in the longer term (1–2 years). Topical issues are discussed including the importance of further research into dietary self-monitoring, the logistics of trialling smartphone applications and considerations of health literacy. There is currently no definitive randomised controlled trial of a smartphone app for weight loss in adults and further research into this approach is warranted.