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Keywords:

  • mobile technology;
  • obesity;
  • overweight;
  • weight loss

Summary

Obesity is a global epidemic with major healthcare implications and costs. Mobile technologies are potential interventions to promote weight loss. An early systematic review of this rapidly growing area of research was conducted. Electronic databases were searched for articles published between January 1998 and October 2011. Data sources included Medline, Embase and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials. Ongoing research was searched for using clinical trials databases and registers. Out of 174 articles retrieved, 21 met the inclusion criteria of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on mobile technology interventions facilitating weight loss in overweight and obese adults with any other comparator. A narrative synthesis was undertaken. Seven articles were included and appraised using the Cochrane risk of bias tool: four presented a low risk of bias and three presented a high risk of bias. There is consistent strong evidence across the included multiple high-quality RCTs that weight loss occurs in the short-term because of mobile technology interventions, with moderate evidence for the medium-term. Recommendations for improving the reporting and quality of future trials are made including reporting weight loss in percent to meet clinical standards, and including features such as long-term follow-up, cost-effectiveness and patient acceptability.