Obesity and overweightness are a growing public health issue in the United States. Much of the problem has been a result of behavioral shifts such as more sedentary lifestyle, less exercise, and poor diet habits among others. At the same, mobile applications and smartphone use have become increasingly popular. The aim of this systematic review was to examine the existing scientific literature with regards to mobile health interventions that are targeted towards obese or overweight individuals in the USA, helping to promote wellness and lifestyle changes through diet and exercise. Although only five studies met the appropriate criteria and were included in the final review, results demonstrated that the smartphone applications used for weight loss were more effective than traditional methods of education or counseling, for example. The smartphone interventions were particularly effective in increasing adherence to the applications, as well as using the self-reporting tools. Real-time feedback was also positively correlated with weight loss. Wearables, which were extensions of the application, used to monitor physical activity, were also effective in minimizing sedentary behavior throughout the day. Studies found that smartphone applications were successful in promoting healthier eating habits, particularly by decreasing total calorie intake per day. Overall, these randomized control trials and pilot studies showed some promising results for the use of mobile technology for weight loss and promotion of positive behavioral changes. More research must be done on the isolated use of mHealth on weight loss, as many studies included a small population size.
Elahi, Niki; Frasso, PhD, CPH, Rosemary; and Leader, DrPH, MPH, Amy, "The Efficacy of Mobile Health Applications as Interventions in Overweight and Obese Adults in the United States." (2020). Master of Public Health Capstone Presentations. Presentation 339.