Study: PDAs Aid Obese, Overweight Adults With Weight-Loss Regimen


Overweight and obese individuals were more likely to adhere to a weight-loss regimen if they used a personal digital assistant to track their progress, according to a study presented at an American Heart Association's meeting last week, HealthDay/U.S. News & World Report reports.


The study involved about 210 overweight or obese adults who were asked to keep track of aspects of a weight-loss program (HealthDay/U.S. News & World Report, 3/15). Eighty-four percent of the participants were women, and 79% were white (Bankhead, MedPage Today, 3/16).

Participants recorded their progress using either:

  • A paper diary;
  • A PDA that did not provide feedback; or
  • A PDA that provided personalized dietary and exercise feedback messages (HealthDay/U.S. News & World Report, 3/15).


The study found that participants using PDAs that offered feedback messages were more successful than other individuals in completing various aspects of the weight-loss regimen, including:

  • Attending group sessions;
  • Meeting daily calorie goals;
  • Reaching daily fat-intake goals;
  • Meeting weekly exercise goals; and
  • Monitoring eating and exercise habits.

According to the study, participants using PDAs that provided feedback lost more than 5% of their weight after six months (United Press International, 3/18).

However, after 24 months, weight loss was similar across all three groups, the study found.

The authors noted that adherence to the weight-loss regimen declined over time among all participants. They added that those using paper diaries had a sharper decline in adherence than participants using PDAs (MedPage Today, 3/16).


Study author Lora Burke of the University of Pittsburgh said the findings "suggest that using an electronic diary improves treatment adherence." However, she noted, "Over time, participants' adherence declined, particularly in the later phase as contact frequency declined and subsequently ended" (HealthDay/U.S. News & World Report, 3/15).

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