Background: Self-monitoring is an essential behavioral strategy for effective weight loss programs. Traditionally, self-monitoring has been achieved using paper-based records. However, technology is now more frequently used to deliver treatment programs to overweight and obese adults. Information technologies, such as the Internet and mobile phones, allow innovative intervention features to be incorporated into treatment that may facilitate greater adherence to self-monitoring processes, provide motivation for behavior change, and ultimately lead to greater weight loss success. Objective: The objective of our study was to determine whether the consistency of self-monitoring differed between participants randomly assigned to a basic or an enhanced 12-week commercial Web-based weight loss program. Methods: We randomly assigned a sample of 301 adults (mean age 42.3 years; body mass index 31.3 kg/m2; female 176/301, 58.5%) to the basic or enhanced group. The basic program included tools for self-monitoring (online food and exercise diary, and a weekly weigh-in log) with some feedback and reminders to weigh in (by text or email). The enhanced program included the basic components, as well as extra individualized feedback on self-monitoring entries and reminders (by text, email, or telephone) to engage with self-monitoring tools. We evaluated the level of self-monitoring by examining the consistency of self-monitoring of food, exercise, and weight during the 12 weeks. Consistency was defined as the number of weeks during which participants completed a criterion number of entries (ie, ≥3 days of online food or exercise diary records per week and ≥1 weigh-in per week). Results: The enhanced group's consistency of use of self-monitoring tools was significantly greater than that of the basic group throughout the 12 weeks (median consistency for food 8 vs 3 weeks, respectively, P<.001; for exercise 2.5 vs 1 weeks, respectively, P=.003). Conclusions: Enhanced features, including additional individualized feedback and reminders, are effective in enhancing self-monitoring behaviors in a Web-based weight loss program.
ARC.LP0990141 & ARC. G0189752
Journal of Medical Internet Research Vol. 18, Issue 4, p. 1-11