Study: Successful weight reduction and maintenance by using a smartphone application in those with overweight and obesity

by | Jan 3, 2017


A discrepancy exists with regard to the effect of smartphone applications (apps) on weight reduction due to the several limitations of previous studies. This is a retrospective cohort study, aimed to investigate the effectiveness of a smartphone app on weight reduction in obese or overweight individuals, based on the complete enumeration study that utilized the clinical and logging data entered by Noom app users between October 2012 and April 2014. A total of 35,921 participants were included in the analysis, of whom 77.9% reported a decrease in body weight while they were using the app (median 267 days; interquartile range = 182). Dinner input frequency was the most important factor for successful weight loss (OR = 10.69; 95% CI = 6.20–19.53; p < 0.001), and more frequent input of weight significantly decreased the possibility of experiencing the yo-yo effect (OR = 0.59, 95% CI = 0.39–0.89; p < 0.001). This study demonstrated the clinical utility of an app for successful weight reduction in the majority of the app users; the effects were more significant for individuals who monitored their weight and diet more frequently.


Obesity is a global epidemic with a rapidly increasing prevalence worldwide. As obese individuals experience significantly higher mortality when compared with the non-obese population, this phenomenon poses a significant socioeconomic burden, necessitating strategies to manage overweight and prevent obesity. Although numerous interventions such as life style modification including exercise, and pharmacotherapy have been shown effective for both the prevention and treatment of obesity, some of these methods were found to have a limitation which required substantial financial inputs and repeated time-consuming processes.

Recently, as the number of smartphone users is increasing dramatically, many investigators have attempted to implement smartphone applications (app) for health promotion. Consequently, many smartphone apps have demonstrated at least partial efficacy in promoting successful weight reduction according to the number of previous studies. However, due to the limitations associated with study design such as small-scale studies and short investigation periods, a discrepancy exists with regard to the effect of apps on weight reduction. Even systemic reviews which investigated the efficacy of mobile apps for weight reduction reported more or less inconsistent results; Flores Mateo et al. reported a significant weight loss by mobile phone app intervention when compared with control groups whereas Semper et al. reported that four of the six studies included in the analysis showed no significant difference of weight reduction between comparison groups. Thus, the aim of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of a smartphone app on weight reduction in obese or overweight individuals using data collected from one of the most widely used weight loss apps.

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