- Obesity is the leading cause of death among approximately 2.8
million people every year.
- Controlled weight loss could be achieved by nutritional,
pharmacological and/or surgical treatments.
- Social Media and Mobile technologies could serve as useful tools
that aid weight loss and weight maintenance by being cost-effective and
- A 2-year-old randomized controlled trial "SMART" (A Social and
Mobile Weight Control Program for Young Adults) has been designed to develop an intervention to promote
weight loss in overweight/obese young adults.
There have been very limited number of weight loss
interventions that had been evaluated for more than a year and even lesser
number of them that have employed social media and mobile technologies which
are widely used among young adults. Dr. Job G Godino et.al have assessed the
efficacy of a theory-based weight-loss intervention for 2 years which had been
delivered remotely and adaptively through integrated user experiences with
social media like Facebook and mobile tools like apps, emails, text messaging,
websites and other technology-mediated communication with a health coach. This
intervention has been named as "Project SMART".
The focus of the study conducted by the University of
California, San Diego was to develop an intervention
that would promote weight loss among overweight or obese young adults.
‘The Project “SMART”- An intervention to promote weight loss in overweight/obese young adults via the use of Social Media and Mobile Technology.’
Obesity is one of the main risk factors for various chronic
diseases and a few types of cancers. The main causes of obesity include
physical inactivity, unhealthy diets and various other social factors.
The authors recruited students from
colleges and universities in order to evaluate the effects of SMART on the
status of their weight and other behavioral, metabolic, and psychosocial
outcomes during the 2-year period. The authors sought to evaluate between condition
differences in weight status at the end of 2 years.
The study also aimed at assessing the
impact of the SMART intervention at 6, 12, 18 and 24 months on the following
- Quality of life
- Physical activity
- Sedentary behaviors
- Blood pressure levels
- Waist circumference
- Differences in weight status
- Level of satisfaction
- The amount of use of the intervention components.
applied to the chosen overweight/obese young adults. Among them, the authors
sought to determine whether Project SMART resulted in weight loss.
The participants enrolled in the study were healthy young
English-speaking adults (18 to 35 years old) of both genders who were available
for a 2-year intervention. They
ought to be Facebook users or those who were willing to use Facebook. They
should own a personal mobile phone, a PC and should be able to use mobile apps
and social media. They should also be willing to attend required research
measurement visits in San Diego over the 24 months.
The exclusion criteria for the
- Those who had sleep apnea, orthopedic problems, eating disorder, psychiatric problems, cancer and diabetes.
- Those with a BMI of less than 25 kg/m2 or greater than 35 kg/m2.
- Those who were pregnant, lactating, breastfeeding, under medications.
- Non-English speaking individuals and those who had enrolled in other such programs.
Upon following the above-mentioned criteria,
overweight or obese participants from three different universities in San Diego
were enrolled for the randomized, controlled trial. They were randomly assigned
to receive general information about health & wellness or the intervention.
The former group was called the control group and the latter, SMART
intervention group. They used permuted-block randomization which was
computer-based with four block sizes, stratified by college, sex and ethnicity.
The study staff, participants and investigators were masked until the
intervention was assigned. The measured weight at the end of 24 months was the
primary outcome. Linear mixed-effects regression was used to measure the
difference between the groups within an intention-to-treat framework. The
secondary outcome was the measured weight at six, 12 and 18 months. About 404
participants were randomly assigned to the intervention between May 2011 and May
Key findings of the Study:
- The mean age of participants was 22.7 years.
- Mean BMI at baseline was 29.0 kg/m2.
- At 24 months, there was no significant difference between the
groups. However, the intervention group weighed slightly lesser than the
other group at 6 months.
- Rapid and excessive weight loss could be one serious adverse event
in the intervention group.
The results have revealed that social media and mobile technologies did not facilitate sustained weight reduction among young adults. However, this study suggests a possibility that this kind of intervention could facilitate short-term weight loss in young adults. References:
- SMART: A Social and Mobile Weight Control Program for Young Adults (SMART) - (https://clinicaltrials.gov/show/NCT01200459)