January 27, 2020
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Mobile apps may facilitate weight loss among adults with type 2 diabetes

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Adults with type 2 diabetes may lose weight more effectively by including a weight-loss mobile app as part of their strategy, according to findings from a meta-analysis published in Obesity.

“Face-to-face tailored or supervised lifestyle modification programs with emphases on healthy diet and sufficient physical activity have been shown to be effective in facilitating weight loss,” Mingzi Li, PhD, RN, of the School of Nursing at Peking University in Beijing, and colleagues wrote. “Mobile apps, which can be installed on any mobile phone and accept data as well as provide professional feedback to patients without time limits or distance restrictions, may overcome these drawbacks.”

Li and colleagues compared changes in body weight, waist circumference and BMI among a combined cohort of 2,129 adults with type 2 diabetes (mean age, 58.4 years) who were randomly assigned to use or not use a weight-loss mobile app as part of one of 14 randomized controlled trials.

Participants using mobile apps lost an additional –0.84 kg in body weight compared with those not using the apps (95% CI, –1.51 to –0.17) and an additional –1.3 kg among those with a baseline BMI of more than 30 kg/m2, or obesity (95% CI, –1.96 to –0.63). For each 1 kg/m2 increase in baseline BMI, there was an additional –0.15 kg decrease in body weight attributed to app use (P = .01), although “mobile app interventions had a trivial and nonsignificant effect in reducing BMI.” Waist circumference was reduced by an additional –1.35 cm among all participants using mobile apps vs. those not using apps (95% CI, –2.16 to –0.55) and by an additional –2.06 cm among those with obesity (95% CI, –3.12 to –1).

Photo of cell phone 
Adults with type 2 diabetes may lose weight more effectively by including a weight-loss mobile app as part of their strategy.
Source: Shutterstock

“Notably, apart from the reduction in body weight, our meta-analysis provided further evidence that mobile app interventions could lower waist circumference and decrease fat mass as well as the percentage of body fat,” the researchers wrote. “These findings indicate that mobile apps, one type of mobile health intervention, might be an effective approach for obesity management.”

The researchers noted that when participants used other lifestyle interventions along with a weight-loss app, the results were better.

“Larger reductions in body weight, BMI and waist circumference were observed among studies comparing mobile app interventions plus additional behavior components with identical behavior components than those comparing mobile app interventions with usual care alone,” the researchers wrote. “This implies that the effectiveness of mobile app interventions on weight loss could be augmented by incorporating additional behavior components, including multidisciplinary diabetes care management or health coaching.” – by Phil Neuffer

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.