Researchers from the University of Tsukuba demonstrated that utilizing web-based applications can aid in weight-loss efforts.
Obesity and being overweight can lead to serious chronic conditions, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, and certain cancers. Conventional weight-loss interventions that involve behavioral changes and lifestyle modifications have been shown to be effective, and there has been a recent surge in the development of innovative internet-based weight-loss interventions.
Wearable devices and smartphone applications that are fitness-related have demonstrated the ability to increase physical activity. However, the extent of their impact and the most effective components have yet to be studied and established. A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Tsukuba, published in Nutrients, evaluated the efficacy of utilizing web-based applications in promoting weight loss and implementing lifestyle changes in overweight and obese individuals.
To examine the said effectiveness of web-based applications, researchers performed a systematic review wherein 1466 articles from 2 medical publication databases were retrieved and carefully selected. Each study was reviewed for its quality of evidence based on the risk of bias; 97 articles were analyzed qualitatively, and 51 articles were analyzed quantitatively.
Qualitative analysis showed that studies that used components such as social support, self-monitoring for behavior and outcome (weight), behavioral goal setting, information on health consequences, and outcome goal setting were significantly effective in weight loss.
“Our study showed that the use of web-based intervention in people with overweight and obesity have a positive and significant effect on weight loss,” states Professor Yoshio Nakata. “However, our data also suggested a trend toward a decreasing effectiveness for long-term web-based interventions”.
Quantitative results also showed the efficacy of using web-based interventions, such as personalized information to tailor the needs of the user and e-counseling, which may be due to the advent and progress of smartphone technology and the availability of web-based counseling. However, certain components of web-based interventions, namely online chats, were shown to be ineffective, highlighting the need for such assessments of efficacy.
This study analyzed different components of web-based interventions on weight loss in people with overweight and obesity and identified key components and characteristics of said interventions that aided in their efficacy. With growing global concern regarding obesity and a steady increase in the number of people gaining access to the internet and using web-based health interventions, this study sets the groundwork for analysis of the effectiveness of these interventional measures and provides data that can help in the design of these applications.
“Effectiveness and Components of Web-Based Interventions on Weight Changes in Adults Who Were Overweight and Obese: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analyses” by Yutong Shi, Kyohsuke Wakaba, Kosuke Kiyohara, Fumi Hayashi, Kazuyo Tsushita and Yoshio Nakata, 30 December 2022, Nutrients.
The study was funded by the Practical Research Project for Life-Style related Diseases including Cardiovascular Diseases and Diabetes Mellitus from the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development, AMED.