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Open Access Highly Accessed Study protocol

A smartphone-supported weight loss program: design of the ENGAGED randomized controlled trial

Christine A Pellegrini1*, Jennifer M Duncan1, Arlen C Moller1, Joanna Buscemi1, Alyson Sularz1, Andrew DeMott1, Alex Pictor1, Sherry Pagoto2, Juned Siddique1 and Bonnie Spring1

Author affiliations

1 Current Address: Department of Preventive Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, 680 N. Lake Shore Drive, Suite 1400, Chicago, IL, 60611, USA

2 Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, 55 Lake Avenue North, Worcester, MA, 01655, USA

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Citation and License

BMC Public Health 2012, 12:1041  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-1041

Published: 30 November 2012

Abstract

Background

Obesity remains a major public health challenge, demanding cost-effective and scalable weight management programs. Delivering key treatment components via mobile technology offers a potential way to reduce expensive in-person contact, thereby lowering the cost and burden of intensive weight loss programs. The ENGAGED study is a theory-guided, randomized controlled trial designed to examine the feasibility and efficacy of an abbreviated smartphone-supported weight loss program.

Methods/design

Ninety-six obese adults (BMI 30–39.9 kg/m2) will be randomized to one of three treatment conditions: (1) standard behavioral weight loss (STND), (2) technology-supported behavioral weight loss (TECH); or (3) self-guided behavioral weight loss (SELF). All groups will aim to achieve a 7% weight loss goal by reducing calorie and fat intake and progressively increasing moderate intensity physical activity to 175 minutes/week. STND and TECH will attend 8 group sessions and receive regular coaching calls during the first 6 months of the intervention; SELF will receive the Group Lifestyle Balance Program DVD’s and will not receive coaching calls. During months 1–6, TECH will use a specially designed smartphone application to monitor dietary intake, body weight, and objectively measured physical activity (obtained from a Blue-tooth enabled accelerometer). STND and SELF will self-monitor on paper diaries. Linear mixed modeling will be used to examine group differences on weight loss at months 3, 6, and 12. Self-monitoring adherence and diet and activity goal attainment will be tested as mediators.

Discussion

ENGAGED is an innovative weight loss intervention that integrates theory with emerging mobile technologies. We hypothesize that TECH, as compared to STND and SELF, will result in greater weight loss by virtue of improved behavioral adherence and goal achievement.

Trial registration

NCT01051713

Keywords:
Weight loss; Technology; Physical activity