mHealth helps patients lose weight, reduce blood pressure

As obesity rates continue to rise, researchers are searching for ways to assist people in managing their weight. A study published in JMIR examines how mobile health technology can help overweight patients manage the chronic disease with improved access to care at a low cost.

A majority (71 percent) of U.S. adults are classified as overweight—a figure that continues to grow. To reach a wide range of patients, researchers have developed the Vida Health mobile app to coach patients in achieving a healthy lifestyle. This study analyzes the benefits to using mHealth on weight loss and blood pressure management.

Led by Alice Yuqing Mao, MD, first author of the study, researchers compiled information from an existing registry to enroll 763 overweight adults. These adults were given health coaching through live video, phone and text messages as well as a wireless scale, blood pressure cuff and pedometer to track progress. Baseline weight was taken as well as measurements between three and five months.

Results showed patients using the app were able to lose an average of 3.23 percent of their total body weight at four months, with 28.6 percent losing 5 percent or more. Compared to the control group, which gained an average of 1.81 percent of total body weight, the mHealth app was able to significantly change participants weight. Additionally, 49.1 percent participants using the app were able to reduce their blood pressure at four months.

“Mobile phone app-based health coaching interventions can be an acceptable and effective means to promote weight loss and improve blood pressure management in overweight or obese individuals,” concluded Mao. “Given the ubiquity of mobile phones, digital health coaching may be an innovative solution to decreasing barriers of access to much-needed weight management interventions for obesity.”