March 21, 2012

Electric Diary Program Helps Obese Adults Lose Weight

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- The traditional diary program to lose weight has been revolutionized. Now advancing technology is allowing people to electronically record their diet and physical activity programs on their personal digital assistant.

The SMART study (Self-Monitoring and Recording with Technology) has proven that the device is significantly more efficient than a paper diary.

The devices people used provided personalized dietary and exercise feedback messages to better their weight loss goals. They adhered to five treatment factors for weight loss including attending group sessions, meeting daily calorie goals, reaching weekly exercise goals, meeting daily fat intake goals, and monitoring eating and exercise.

The SMART study involved 210 obese adults, 84 percent women and 79 percent white, who either used a handheld electronic device without feedback, a handheld device with daily feedback, or a paper diary. Those who used the electronic devices initially did better than those who used a paper diary in meeting attendance, self-monitoring, and energy and exercise goals.

The group that received daily messages from their device had more than a five percent weight loss at six months, but adherence declined and weight gain occurred over time. At 24 months weight loss was similar across the three groups; however, it was slightly better in the group receiving feedback.

"The results suggest that using an electronic diary improves treatment adherence. Over time, participants' adherence declined, particularly in the later phase as contact frequency declined and subsequently ended. Adherence in the paper diary group declined more than in the device groups," Lora E. Burke, Ph.D., study author and professor of nursing and epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh, PA, was quoted saying.

All participants in the study recorded their exercise levels and daily beverage and food intakes. Those who used devices were shown their consumed daily calories and fat grams and compared them to targeted amounts. Those who used devices with feedback received messages on their diet once as day and exercise every other day. Thirty-nine group sessions were offered to participants in the first 18 months and one "maintenance" session in the last six months.

Dr. Burke believes that more frequent contact during the last half of the trial would have made adherence better. The study confirms that withdrawing or reducing contact will result in weight regain.

"The technology used in the study has since been upgraded, but the concept is the same for smart phones and self-monitoring applications," Dr. Burke was quoted saying and is now conducting a study using smart phones to monitor the triggers for relapses.

SOURCE: American Heart Association, March 2012