A mobile health and wellness coaching intervention for weight loss

More than two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese, conditions that are associated with poor health and increased medical costs. Modest weight loss, if sustained, can significantly improve health. To achieve this, health behavior change is necessary, and programs that facilitate acquisition of sustainable health behaviors are needed. Target health behaviors include diet, physical activity, and sleep, as they directly impact weight.

Health and wellness coaching (HWC) has been shown to facilitate behavior change in various populations. Many HWC interventions for weight loss have effectively used remote communication between coaches and participants, but mobile HWC (mHWC), which is delivered wholly via mobile technology and uses text-based messaging, has not been explored for weight loss. Given the wide adoption of smartphones, text-messaging, mobile applications, and wearable devices, this approach is highly feasible and worth exploring.

Three Obesity Working Group members are currently investigating mHWC for weight loss. Sixty participants with a BMI greater than or equal to 27 and waist circumference greater than or equal to 35 inches (in women) or 40 inches (in men) have been recruited from the Auburn University Pharmacy Care Center. All participants have received in-person consultation from our dietitian at baseline and are encouraged to self-monitor their weight and target health behaviors using a commercially available mobile application (Nudge, LLC), a wearable device, and a weight scale.

One group of participants is receiving mobile health and wellness coaching via the Nudge app, while another group is receiving monthly, in-person consultations. Both interventions are delivered by a health care professional.

The desired outcome is weight change at six months. Secondary outcomes of interest include changes in target health behaviors and waist circumference. Measures will also be assessed at three months and six months after the intervention has ended.

This project is funded through August 2018 by an internal grant from the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine.