Emerging Technologies and Virtual Medicine in Obesity Management

  • The management of obesity through technological means has shown benefits in recent years. These include treatment and follow-up strategies delivered through portable devices (e.g., mobile phones), webbased platforms (e.g., websites) and wearable tracking devices (e.g., accelerometers).
  • Technology-based interventions provide timeefficient, flexible, and potentially cost-effective options for the management of patients with obesity, either on their own or as an adjunct to conventional (face-to-face) care.
  • The weight-loss benefits of technology-based interventions in the management of obesity have been shown in the literature. However, there is insufficient data as yet comparing these interventions to conventional (face-to-face) treatment in populations with obesity. This prohibits us from forming firm conclusions about their comparative benefits. Also, while weight loss and weight-loss maintenance may be important outcomes in obesity-management interventions, they are not the only outcomes. Future research is needed to assess the impact of technology-based obesity interventions on outcomes such as quality of life and prevention or management of obesity-related complications
  1. Implementation of management strategies can be delivered through web-based platforms (e.g., online education on medical-nutrition therapy and physical activity) or mobile devices (e.g., daily weight reporting through a smartphone application) in the management of obesity (Level 2a, Grade B)1,2.
  2. We suggest that healthcare professionals incorporate, or use technology which incorporates, individualised feedback and follow-up (e.g., personalised coaching or feedback via phone or email) into technology-based management strategies to improve weight-loss outcomes (Level 4, Grade D)3.
  3. The use of wearable activity-tracking technology should be used as part of a comprehensive strategy for weight loss (Level 1a, Grade A)4.
  • Technology-based strategies can help you manage your health, both when used alone or when combined with conventional (face-to-face) obesitymanagement approaches.
  • There are multiple options for incorporating technology into your obesity-management programme, including through your portable device (e.g., mobile phone), a web-based platform (e.g., website) and/or a wearable tracking device (e.g., pedometer).
  • In many cases, you may find technology-based strategies more convenient and time efficient than face-to-face encounters with your healthcare professional, though you should consider the impacts related to data privacy when using available technologies. We suggest you discuss with your HCP which options might work best for you.

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