Mobile Health Apps in Pediatric Obesity Treatment: process Outcomes From a Feasibility Study of a Multicomponent Intervention

Type Article

Journal Article


S. Browne; M. T. Kechadi; S. O'Donnell; M. Dow; L. Tully; G. Doyle; G. O'Malley

Year of publication



JMIR mhealth and uhealth








BACKGROUND: Multicomponent family interventions underline current best practice in childhood obesity treatment. Mobile health (mHealth) adjuncts that address eating and physical activity behaviors have shown promise in clinical studies. OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to describe process methods for applying an mHealth intervention to reduce the rate of eating and monitor physical activity among children with obesity. METHODS: The study protocol was designed to incorporate 2 mHealth apps as an adjunct to usual care treatment for obesity. Children and adolescents (aged 9‐16 years) with obesity (BMI ≥98th centile) were recruited in person from a weight management service at a tertiary health care center in the Republic of Ireland. Eligible participants and their parents received information leaflets, and informed consent and assent were signed. Participants completed 2 weeks of baseline testing, including behavioral and quality of life questionnaires, anthropometry, rate of eating by Mandolean, and physical activity level using a smart watch and the myBigO smartphone app. Thereafter, participants were randomized to the (1) intervention (usual clinical care+Mandolean training to reduce the rate of eating) or (2) control (usual clinical care) groups. Gender and age group (9.0‐12.9 years and 13.0‐16.9 years) stratifications were applied. At the end of a 4‐week treatment period, participants repeated the 2‐week testing period. Process evaluation measures included recruitment, study retention, fidelity parameters, acceptability, and user satisfaction. RESULTS: A total of 20 participants were enrolled in the study. A web‐based randomization system assigned 8 participants to the intervention group and 12 participants to the control group. Attrition rates were higher among the participants in the intervention group (5/8, 63%) than those in the control group (3/12, 25%). Intervention participants undertook a median of 1.0 training meal using Mandolean (25th centile 0, 75th centile 9.3), which represented 19.2% of planned intervention exposure. Only 50% (9/18) of participants with smart watches logged physical activity data. Significant differences in psychosocial profile were observed at baseline between the groups. The Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) mean total score was 71.7 (SD 3.1) in the intervention group vs 57.6 (SD 6.6) in the control group, t‐test P