Research: Digital or Internet support can assist with weight loss

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Online support and weight loss program can lead to significant weight loss.

Surprise From Scale

Obesity is a huge problem around the world. The worldwide epidemic has been associated with a large increase in morbidity and mortality. Although it was initially centered in developed countries, it is not expanding just as fact the waistlines in the less developed counties. The weight gain is accelerating at an alarming rate will soon break the bank for many of these counties as the health problems increase.

The world needs to find new methods to get after this age-old problem. New tools will be needed to combat obesity at a large scale in relatively low-income populations. The day of medically guided weight loss is p[ast its prime and we need to find a way to deliver help to the masses of the globe where medical care is more scarce. Digital health programs offer a promising addition to this toolset by leveraging the rise in smartphone connectivity to create scalable solutions to help curb the rising obesity epidemic.

Effective and accessible weight loss programs to combat worldwide obesity is needed and warranted, but a need for frequent face-to-face care might impose a limitation. The good news is that new internet options may provide an answer to this need without the high cost of face to face visits. A new study looked to evaluate whether individuals following a weight loss program based on a mobile application, wireless scale, and nutritional program but without face-to-face care can achieve clinically significant weight loss​[1]​

The study was a retrospective observational analysis that looked at online weight loss technology as a means. The data was collected in China from October 2016 to December 2017.  Participants use a mobile application and a commercial weight loss program consisting of a dietary replacement, self-monitoring using a wireless home scale, and frequent guidance via mobile application.

The study included 251,718 individuals with a mean age of 37.3 years. The subjects had a mean weight loss of 4.3 kg (9 pounds) with a mean follow-up of 120 days. Mean weight loss at 42, 60, 90, and 120 d was 4.1 kg, 4.9 kg, 5.6 kg, and 5.4 kg, respectively. At 120 d, 62.7% of participants had lost at least 5% of their initial weight. There were not significant differences between the ages. The frequency of recording or use was associated with greater weight loss success.

The bottom line: Digital weight loss support build success. People following a commercially available hybrid weight loss program using a mobile application, wireless scale, and nutritional program without face-to-face interaction on average achieved clinically significant short- and midterm weight loss. These results support the implementation of comparable technologies for weight control in a large population.


  1. [1]
    C. Senecal et al., “A Digital Health Weight Loss Program in 250,000 Individuals,” Journal of Obesity, pp. 1–8, Mar. 2020, doi: 10.1155/2020/9497164. [Online]. Available:
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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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