Features predicting weight loss in overweight or obese participants in a web-based intervention: Randomized trial

Emily Brindal, Jill Freyne, Ian Saunders, Shlomo Berkovsky, Greg Smith, Manny Noakes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

50 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Obesity remains a serious issue in many countries. Web-based programs offer good potential for delivery of weight loss programs. Yet, many Internet-delivered weight loss studies include support from medical or nutritional experts, and relatively little is known about purely web-based weight loss programs. Objective: To determine whether supportive features and personalization in a 12-week web-based lifestyle intervention with no in-person professional contact affect retention and weight loss. Methods: We assessed the effect of different features of a web-based weight loss intervention using a 12-week repeated-measures randomized parallel design. We developed 7 sites representing 3 functional groups. A national mass media promotion was used to attract overweight/obese Australian adults (based on body mass index [BMI] calculated from self-reported heights and weights). Eligible respondents (n = 8112) were randomly allocated to one of 3 functional groups: information-based (n = 183), supportive (n = 3994), or personalized-supportive (n = 3935). Both supportive sites included tools, such as a weight tracker, meal planner, and social networking platform. The personalized-supportive site included a meal planner that offered recommendations that were personalized using an algorithm based on a user's preferences for certain foods. Dietary and activity information were constant across sites, based on an existing and tested 12-week weight loss program (the Total Wellbeing Diet). Before and/or after the intervention, participants completed demographic (including self-reported weight), behavioral, and evaluation questionnaires online. Usage of the website and features was objectively recorded. All screening and data collection procedures were performed online with no face-to-face contact. Results: Across all 3 groups, attrition was high at around 40% in the first week and 20% of the remaining participants each week. Retention was higher for the supportive sites compared to the information-based site only at week 12 (P= .01). The average number of days that each site was used varied significantly (P = .02) and was higher for the supportive site at 5.96 (SD 11.36) and personalized-supportive site at 5.50 (SD 10.35), relative to the information-based site at 3.43 (SD 4.28). In total, 435 participants provided a valid final weight at the 12-week follow-up. Intention-to-treat analyses (using multiple imputations) revealed that there were no statistically significant differences in weight loss between sites (P = .42). On average, participants lost 2.76% (SE 0.32%) of their initial body weight, with 23.7% (SE 3.7%) losing 5% or more of their initial weight. Within supportive conditions, the level of use of the online weight tracker was predictive of weight loss (model estimate = 0.34, P < .001). Age (model estimate = 0.04, P < .001) and initial BMI (model estimate = -0.03, P < .002) were associated with frequency of use of the weight tracker. Conclusions: Relative to a static control, inclusion of social networking features and personalized meal planning recommendations in a web-based weight loss program did not demonstrate additive effects for user weight loss or retention. These features did, however, increase the average number of days that a user engaged with the system. For users of the supportive websites, greater use of the weight tracker tool was associated with greater weight loss.

LanguageEnglish
Article numbere173
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Volume14
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2012

Keywords

  • Dietetics
  • Internet
  • Obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics

Cite this

Brindal, Emily ; Freyne, Jill ; Saunders, Ian ; Berkovsky, Shlomo ; Smith, Greg ; Noakes, Manny. / Features predicting weight loss in overweight or obese participants in a web-based intervention : Randomized trial. In: Journal of Medical Internet Research. 2012 ; Vol. 14, No. 6.
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abstract = "Background: Obesity remains a serious issue in many countries. Web-based programs offer good potential for delivery of weight loss programs. Yet, many Internet-delivered weight loss studies include support from medical or nutritional experts, and relatively little is known about purely web-based weight loss programs. Objective: To determine whether supportive features and personalization in a 12-week web-based lifestyle intervention with no in-person professional contact affect retention and weight loss. Methods: We assessed the effect of different features of a web-based weight loss intervention using a 12-week repeated-measures randomized parallel design. We developed 7 sites representing 3 functional groups. A national mass media promotion was used to attract overweight/obese Australian adults (based on body mass index [BMI] calculated from self-reported heights and weights). Eligible respondents (n = 8112) were randomly allocated to one of 3 functional groups: information-based (n = 183), supportive (n = 3994), or personalized-supportive (n = 3935). Both supportive sites included tools, such as a weight tracker, meal planner, and social networking platform. The personalized-supportive site included a meal planner that offered recommendations that were personalized using an algorithm based on a user's preferences for certain foods. Dietary and activity information were constant across sites, based on an existing and tested 12-week weight loss program (the Total Wellbeing Diet). Before and/or after the intervention, participants completed demographic (including self-reported weight), behavioral, and evaluation questionnaires online. Usage of the website and features was objectively recorded. All screening and data collection procedures were performed online with no face-to-face contact. Results: Across all 3 groups, attrition was high at around 40{\%} in the first week and 20{\%} of the remaining participants each week. Retention was higher for the supportive sites compared to the information-based site only at week 12 (P= .01). The average number of days that each site was used varied significantly (P = .02) and was higher for the supportive site at 5.96 (SD 11.36) and personalized-supportive site at 5.50 (SD 10.35), relative to the information-based site at 3.43 (SD 4.28). In total, 435 participants provided a valid final weight at the 12-week follow-up. Intention-to-treat analyses (using multiple imputations) revealed that there were no statistically significant differences in weight loss between sites (P = .42). On average, participants lost 2.76{\%} (SE 0.32{\%}) of their initial body weight, with 23.7{\%} (SE 3.7{\%}) losing 5{\%} or more of their initial weight. Within supportive conditions, the level of use of the online weight tracker was predictive of weight loss (model estimate = 0.34, P < .001). Age (model estimate = 0.04, P < .001) and initial BMI (model estimate = -0.03, P < .002) were associated with frequency of use of the weight tracker. Conclusions: Relative to a static control, inclusion of social networking features and personalized meal planning recommendations in a web-based weight loss program did not demonstrate additive effects for user weight loss or retention. These features did, however, increase the average number of days that a user engaged with the system. For users of the supportive websites, greater use of the weight tracker tool was associated with greater weight loss.",
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Features predicting weight loss in overweight or obese participants in a web-based intervention : Randomized trial. / Brindal, Emily; Freyne, Jill; Saunders, Ian; Berkovsky, Shlomo; Smith, Greg; Noakes, Manny.

In: Journal of Medical Internet Research, Vol. 14, No. 6, e173, 01.11.2012.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Features predicting weight loss in overweight or obese participants in a web-based intervention

T2 - Journal of Medical Internet Research

AU - Brindal, Emily

AU - Freyne, Jill

AU - Saunders, Ian

AU - Berkovsky, Shlomo

AU - Smith, Greg

AU - Noakes, Manny

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Y1 - 2012/11/1

N2 - Background: Obesity remains a serious issue in many countries. Web-based programs offer good potential for delivery of weight loss programs. Yet, many Internet-delivered weight loss studies include support from medical or nutritional experts, and relatively little is known about purely web-based weight loss programs. Objective: To determine whether supportive features and personalization in a 12-week web-based lifestyle intervention with no in-person professional contact affect retention and weight loss. Methods: We assessed the effect of different features of a web-based weight loss intervention using a 12-week repeated-measures randomized parallel design. We developed 7 sites representing 3 functional groups. A national mass media promotion was used to attract overweight/obese Australian adults (based on body mass index [BMI] calculated from self-reported heights and weights). Eligible respondents (n = 8112) were randomly allocated to one of 3 functional groups: information-based (n = 183), supportive (n = 3994), or personalized-supportive (n = 3935). Both supportive sites included tools, such as a weight tracker, meal planner, and social networking platform. The personalized-supportive site included a meal planner that offered recommendations that were personalized using an algorithm based on a user's preferences for certain foods. Dietary and activity information were constant across sites, based on an existing and tested 12-week weight loss program (the Total Wellbeing Diet). Before and/or after the intervention, participants completed demographic (including self-reported weight), behavioral, and evaluation questionnaires online. Usage of the website and features was objectively recorded. All screening and data collection procedures were performed online with no face-to-face contact. Results: Across all 3 groups, attrition was high at around 40% in the first week and 20% of the remaining participants each week. Retention was higher for the supportive sites compared to the information-based site only at week 12 (P= .01). The average number of days that each site was used varied significantly (P = .02) and was higher for the supportive site at 5.96 (SD 11.36) and personalized-supportive site at 5.50 (SD 10.35), relative to the information-based site at 3.43 (SD 4.28). In total, 435 participants provided a valid final weight at the 12-week follow-up. Intention-to-treat analyses (using multiple imputations) revealed that there were no statistically significant differences in weight loss between sites (P = .42). On average, participants lost 2.76% (SE 0.32%) of their initial body weight, with 23.7% (SE 3.7%) losing 5% or more of their initial weight. Within supportive conditions, the level of use of the online weight tracker was predictive of weight loss (model estimate = 0.34, P < .001). Age (model estimate = 0.04, P < .001) and initial BMI (model estimate = -0.03, P < .002) were associated with frequency of use of the weight tracker. Conclusions: Relative to a static control, inclusion of social networking features and personalized meal planning recommendations in a web-based weight loss program did not demonstrate additive effects for user weight loss or retention. These features did, however, increase the average number of days that a user engaged with the system. For users of the supportive websites, greater use of the weight tracker tool was associated with greater weight loss.

AB - Background: Obesity remains a serious issue in many countries. Web-based programs offer good potential for delivery of weight loss programs. Yet, many Internet-delivered weight loss studies include support from medical or nutritional experts, and relatively little is known about purely web-based weight loss programs. Objective: To determine whether supportive features and personalization in a 12-week web-based lifestyle intervention with no in-person professional contact affect retention and weight loss. Methods: We assessed the effect of different features of a web-based weight loss intervention using a 12-week repeated-measures randomized parallel design. We developed 7 sites representing 3 functional groups. A national mass media promotion was used to attract overweight/obese Australian adults (based on body mass index [BMI] calculated from self-reported heights and weights). Eligible respondents (n = 8112) were randomly allocated to one of 3 functional groups: information-based (n = 183), supportive (n = 3994), or personalized-supportive (n = 3935). Both supportive sites included tools, such as a weight tracker, meal planner, and social networking platform. The personalized-supportive site included a meal planner that offered recommendations that were personalized using an algorithm based on a user's preferences for certain foods. Dietary and activity information were constant across sites, based on an existing and tested 12-week weight loss program (the Total Wellbeing Diet). Before and/or after the intervention, participants completed demographic (including self-reported weight), behavioral, and evaluation questionnaires online. Usage of the website and features was objectively recorded. All screening and data collection procedures were performed online with no face-to-face contact. Results: Across all 3 groups, attrition was high at around 40% in the first week and 20% of the remaining participants each week. Retention was higher for the supportive sites compared to the information-based site only at week 12 (P= .01). The average number of days that each site was used varied significantly (P = .02) and was higher for the supportive site at 5.96 (SD 11.36) and personalized-supportive site at 5.50 (SD 10.35), relative to the information-based site at 3.43 (SD 4.28). In total, 435 participants provided a valid final weight at the 12-week follow-up. Intention-to-treat analyses (using multiple imputations) revealed that there were no statistically significant differences in weight loss between sites (P = .42). On average, participants lost 2.76% (SE 0.32%) of their initial body weight, with 23.7% (SE 3.7%) losing 5% or more of their initial weight. Within supportive conditions, the level of use of the online weight tracker was predictive of weight loss (model estimate = 0.34, P < .001). Age (model estimate = 0.04, P < .001) and initial BMI (model estimate = -0.03, P < .002) were associated with frequency of use of the weight tracker. Conclusions: Relative to a static control, inclusion of social networking features and personalized meal planning recommendations in a web-based weight loss program did not demonstrate additive effects for user weight loss or retention. These features did, however, increase the average number of days that a user engaged with the system. For users of the supportive websites, greater use of the weight tracker tool was associated with greater weight loss.

KW - Dietetics

KW - Internet

KW - Obesity

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