Current Obesity Reports

, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 307–315 | Cite as

Handheld Electronic Technology for Weight Loss in Overweight/Obese Adults

Health Services and Programs (SFL Kirk, Section Editor)


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.


Smartphone Mobile phone Personal digital assistant Text message Information communication technology Overweight Obesity Weight loss Randomised controlled trials Review Handheld technology 



J. E Cade receives grant support from National Prevention Research Initiative (NPRI) to develop and validate a smartphone weight loss app; we are exploring the potential for use of our smartphone weight loss app in the UK National Health Service.

Compliance with Ethics Guidelines

Conflict of Interest

Michelle C. Carter, V. J Burley, and J. E Cade declare that they have 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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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michelle C. Carter
    • 1
  • V. J. Burley
    • 1
  • J. E. Cade
    • 1
  1. 1.Nutritional Epidemiology Group, School of Food Science and NutritionUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK

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