Study: Digital Health Coaching App Improves Weight Loss, Blood Pressure Management

June 20, 2017
A digital health app and 1-to-1 coaching platform can help patients lose weight and reduce blood pressure, according to a new study published in the June issue of the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

A digital health app and 1-to-1 coaching platform can help patients lose weight and reduce blood pressure, according to a new study published in the June issue of the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

Medical researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, working with digital health company Vida Health, sought to examine how a smartphone-based health coaching could help decrease the barriers of cost and accessibility of receiving health coaching for the prevention and management of chronic disease in overweight or obese individuals.

The researchers note that the prevalence of obesity and associated metabolic conditions continue to be challenging and costly to address for health care systems; 71 percent of American adults were overweight, with 35 percent of men and 40 percent of women diagnosed with obesity in 2014.

For the study, the researchers analyzed data sourced from wireless scales, pedometers and blood pressure cuffs of more than 1,000 participants with a minimum of 25 BMI who enrolled in the broad population study. Study participants received four months of intensive health coaching via live video, phone, and text message through the Vida Health app. The purpose of the study was to survey a broad, non-targeted population starting with a BMI of 25 or above to determine results of the service on a health population at scale.

According to the study findings, nearly one-third of participants in the study achieved a clinically significant (>5 percent) reduction in total body weight, averaging 9.5 percent after four months of the program. Overall, 75 percent of participants averaged a 3.2 percent reduction in total body weight. A control group followed by the medical researchers gained 1.8 percent total body weight over four months.

In addition to weight loss, of the 112 (11 percent) participants with high blood pressure, 86 percent of those with stage 2 reversed to stage 1, and 76 percent with stage 1 reversed to pre-hypertension.

The medical researchers concluded that mobile phone app-based health coaching interventions can be an acceptable and effective means to promote weight loss and improve blood pressure management in overweight or obese individuals. “Given the ubiquity of mobile phones, digital health coaching may be an innovative solution to decreasing barriers of access to much-needed weight management interventions for obesity,” the researchers wrote in the study.

According to Vida Health, the digital health coaching platform leverages coaching, evidence-based clinical programs, data integration, and machine learning to help people manage chronic conditions. Vida allows users to select a personal health coach from an array of certified professionals. Users then interact with the coach via phone call, video chat, or text. They enroll in evidence-based programs and work with their personal coach on setting goals and developing personalized plans ranging from weight loss to quitting smoking to managing diabetes and hypertension.

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