Losing weight can be a challenge, with many people struggling to maintain their motivation and understand which strategies work best for them. But now a new study carried out by a Stanford Medicine researcher shows that using digital health tools to track progress can be one of the most effective weight loss strategies. From comparative analysis of nearly 40 different studies to examining the percentage of people who were more engaged in their goals when using technology, it presented new insight into how digital solutions can be used to help people reach their goals.
In the analysis, led by Reena Patel, an assistant professor of medicine at Stanford Medicine, researchers team looked at nearly 40 studies and compared the effect that digital tracking had on individuals’ weight loss goals The study analyzed the effectiveness of monitoring different weight loss strategies and aimed to find which weight loss strategies were more successful when tracked digitally compared to traditional methods, such as handwritten records.
The team found that tracking weight loss through digital health tools was more successful than through more traditional means. This is likely due to the convenience of digital tools, which allow users to easily check and record their progress on their goals at any time. Additionally, digital tools can also offer reminders and notifications to keep users engaged and motivated in their weight loss journey.
The studies ranged from small-scale research involving questionnaires to very large trials that analyzed the real-world effects of digital tracking on weight loss. These studies included using digital tracking of diet, physical activity, and/or energy intake. Across all the studies, the findings showed that, regardless of the type of weight loss strategy used, those who tracked their progress with digital health tools saw greater success and engagement than those who tracked their behavior through more traditional means.
Tracking weight loss progress with digital health tools is key to success.
Patel and her team realized that among the people who tracked their progress digitally, the percentage of those who were more engaged, meaning they used their digital health tools more often than their traditional monitoring methods, was much higher than the percentage of those who tracked their behavior through more traditional means. This suggests that digital tracking is more useful than traditional methods when it comes to diet and physical activity tracking.
The analysis also showed that digital tracking of diet and physical activity leads to greater engagement because of things like visual alerts and reminders, which can help to keep users focused and motivated.
The analysis also found that individuals who used digital tracking for multiple health areas, such as diet, physical activity, and/or sleep, demonstrated higher engagement and success as well. This suggests that with digital solutions being more widely available and easier to use than ever before, they are an increasingly attractive option for reaching weight loss goals and can help users stick to multiple goals at once.
More research is currently being conducted on the links between technology and weight loss. Patel plans to look at how tracking activity, sleep and diet can help with weight loss. He also plans to study how virtual coaching can help people stick to their goals.