A smartphone-supported weight loss program: Design of the ENGAGED randomized controlled trial

Christine A. Pellegrini*, Jennifer M. Duncan, Arlen C. Moller, Joanna Buscemi, Alyson Sularz, Andrew Demott, Alex Pictor, Sherry Pagoto, Juned Siddique, Bonnie Spring

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Background: Obesity remains a major public health challenge, demanding cost-effective and scalable weight management programs. Delivering key treatment components via mobile technology offers a potential way to reduce expensive in-person contact, thereby lowering the cost and burden of intensive weight loss programs. The ENGAGED study is a theory-guided, randomized controlled trial designed to examine the feasibility and efficacy of an abbreviated smartphone-supported weight loss program. Methods/design. Ninety-six obese adults (BMI 30-39.9 kg/m§ssup§2§esup§) will be randomized to one of three treatment conditions: (1) standard behavioral weight loss (STND), (2) technology-supported behavioral weight loss (TECH); or (3) self-guided behavioral weight loss (SELF). All groups will aim to achieve a 7% weight loss goal by reducing calorie and fat intake and progressively increasing moderate intensity physical activity to 175 minutes/week. STND and TECH will attend 8 group sessions and receive regular coaching calls during the first 6 months of the intervention; SELF will receive the Group Lifestyle Balance Program DVD's and will not receive coaching calls. During months 1-6, TECH will use a specially designed smartphone application to monitor dietary intake, body weight, and objectively measured physical activity (obtained from a Blue-tooth enabled accelerometer). STND and SELF will self-monitor on paper diaries. Linear mixed modeling will be used to examine group differences on weight loss at months 3, 6, and 12. Self-monitoring adherence and diet and activity goal attainment will be tested as mediators. Discussion. ENGAGED is an innovative weight loss intervention that integrates theory with emerging mobile technologies. We hypothesize that TECH, as compared to STND and SELF, will result in greater weight loss by virtue of improved behavioral adherence and goal achievement. Trial registration. NCT01051713.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1041
JournalBMC public health
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2012


  • Physical activity
  • Technology
  • Weight loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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