MAY 23, 2024 9:00 AM PDT

Technology Alone Can't Treat Obesity

WRITTEN BY: Savannah Logan

A new study published in JAMA Network has shown that human coaching works better than technology alone for weight loss in individuals who are overweight or have obesity.

The study included 400 adult participants with body mass indexes ranging from 27 to 45 (indicating that all participants were overweight or had obesity). The participants were randomized into two groups: the first group received feedback on their weight loss and progress through a wireless feedback system, while the second group received the same feedback plus weekly 10- to 15-minute coaching calls with a human. Both interventions initially lasted three months. If participants showed non-optimal weight loss with either intervention, they were given additional support such as messages and mobile notifications. The goal of the study was to see whether technology alone could produce weight loss similar to the weight loss achieved by technology combined with human coaching.

The results showed that, after six months, participants who had participated in coaching showed significantly more weight loss than those who had only received the technology intervention. The first group lost an average of 4.8 kilograms (10.6 pounds) after six months, while the second group lost an average of 2.5 kilograms (5.5 pounds) over the same time period.

The authors of the study stated that the technology alone produced weight loss results that were “unacceptably worse” than the results produced by technology combined with human coaching. Obesity has become a major health concern around the world, and understanding the effectiveness of different interventions is critical in addressing the epidemic. At this stage, a human coach is still necessary to produce optimal weight loss results. However, in the near future, the rapid development of AI and other technologies may catch up to human intervention.

Sources: JAMA Network, Science Daily

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
Savannah (she/her) is a scientific writer specializing in cardiology at Labroots. Her background is in medical writing with significant experience in obesity, oncology, and infectious diseases. She has conducted research in microbial biophysics, optics, and education. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Oregon.
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