A digital health weight-loss intervention in severe obesity

Conor Senecal, Maria Collazo-Clavell, Beth R. Larrabee, Mariza de Andrade, Weihua Lin, Bing Chen, Lilach O. Lerman, Amir Lerman, Francisco Lopez-Jimenez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Introduction: Severe obesity is a growing epidemic that causes significant morbidity and mortality, and is particularly difficult to reverse. Efficacious and cost-effective interventions are needed to combat this epidemic. This study hypothesized that obese people (body mass index (BMI) ≥35 kg/m2) using a remote weight-loss program combining a mobile application, wireless scales, and low-calorie meal replacement would experience clinically significant weight loss. Methods: This study was a retrospective observational analysis of 8275 individuals with a baseline BMI ≥35 kg/m2 who used a remote weight-loss program combining mobile applications, frequent self-weighing, and calorie restriction via meal replacement for a minimum of 35 days. Weight changes were evaluated at multiple intervals (42, 60, 90, and 120 days), and weight loss was evaluated for all and for pre-specified subgroups based on demographic features and frequency of self-weighing. Results: Mean weight loss at 42 days (N = 6781) was 8.1 kg (margin of error (MOE) = 0.126 kg) with 73.6% of users experiencing >5% total body weight loss. Both men (9.1 kg; MOE = 0.172 kg; 7.9% from baseline) and women (7.1 kg; MOE = 0.179 kg; 7.2% from baseline) experienced significant weight loss. At the 120-day interval (N = 2914), mean weight loss was 14 kg (MOE = 0.340 kg), 13% total body weight loss from baseline, and 82.3% of participants had lost >5% of their initial body weight. The decrease in body-fat percent correlated well with weight loss (R = 0.92; p < 0.001). Conclusions: In a large cohort of individuals with class II or III obesity, a remote weight-loss program combining mobile applications, daily self-weighing, and calorie restriction via meal replacement resulted in dramatic weight loss among subjects who were active users when evaluated through a retrospective observational analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalDigital Health
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020



  • Digital health
  • mobile application
  • severe obesity
  • weight loss
  • wireless scales

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Health Policy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Health Information Management

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