A weight loss intervention augmented by a wearable device in rural older adults with obesity: A feasibility study

John A. Batsis, Curtis L. Petersen, Matthew M. Clark, Summer B. Cook, Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, Rima I. Al-Nimr, Dawna Pidgeon, David Kotz, Todd A. Mackenzie, Stephen J. Bartels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Older persons with obesity aged 65+ residing in rural areas have reduced access to weight management programs due to geographic isolation. The ability to integrate technology into health promotion interventions shows a potential to reach this underserved population. Methods: A 12-week pilot in 28 older rural adults with obesity (body mass index [BMI] ≥ 30 kg/m2) was conducted at a community aging center. The intervention consisted of individualized, weekly dietitian visits focusing on behavior therapy and caloric restriction with twice weekly physical therapist-led group strengthening training classes in a community-based aging center. All participants were provided a Fitbit Flex 2. An aerobic activity prescription outside the strength training classes was provided. Results: Mean age was 72.9 ± 5.3 years (82% female). Baseline BMI was 37.1 kg/m2, and waist circumference was 120.0 ± 33.0 cm. Mean weight loss (pre/post) was 4.6 ± 3.2 kg (4.9 ± 3.4%; p <.001). Of the 40 eligible participants, 33 (75%) enrolled, and the completion rate was high (84.8%). Objective measures of physical function improved at follow-up: 6-minute walk test improved: 35.7 ± 41.2 m (p <.001); gait speed improved: 0.10 ± 0.24 m/s (p =.04); and five-times sit-to-stand improved by 2.1 seconds (p <.001). Subjective measures of late-life function improved (5.2 ± 7.1 points, p =.003), as did Patient-Reported Outcome Measurement Information Systems mental and physical health scores (5.0 ± 5.7 and 4.4 ± 5.0, both p <.001). Participants wore their Fitbit 93.9% of all intervention days, and were overall satisfied with the trial (4.5/5.0, 1-5 low-high) and with Fitbit (4.0/5.0). Conclusions: A multicomponent obesity intervention incorporating a wearable device is feasible and acceptable to older adults with obesity, and potentially holds promise in enhancing health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-100
Number of pages6
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021


  • MHealth
  • Physical function
  • Trials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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