Effectiveness of a Weight Loss Program Using Digital Health in Adolescents and Preadolescents

Sha Lei, Jose R.Medina Inojosa, Seema Kumar, Alexander T. Lee, Christopher G. Scott, Amir Lerman, Lilach O. Lerman, Conor G. Senecal, Weihua Lin, Xiaoyong Zhang, Pinchas Cohen, Francisco Lopez-Jimenez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To identify an efficacious intervention on treating adolescents with overweight and obesity, this might result in health benefits. Methods: Adolescents with overweight or obesity aged 10-17 years with BMI percentile ≥85th were included in this historical observational analysis. Subjects used an entirely remote weight loss program combining mobile applications, frequent self-weighing, and calorie restriction with meal replacement. Body weight changes were evaluated at 42, 60, 90, and 120 days using different metrics including absolute body weight, BMI, and BMI z-score. Chi-square or Fisher exact tests (categorical variables) and Student's t-test (continuous variables) were used to compare subjects. Results: In total, 2,825 participants, mean age 14.4 ± 2.2 years, (54.8% girls), were included from October 27, 2016, to December 31, 2017, in mainland China; 1355 (48.0%) had a baseline BMI percentile ≥97th. Mean BMI and BMI z-score were 29.20 ± 4.44 kg/m2 and 1.89 ± 0.42, respectively. At day 120, mean reduction in body weight, BMI, and BMI z-score was 8.6 ± 0.63 kg, 3.13 ± 0.21 kg/m2, and 0.42 ± 0.03; 71.4% had lost ≥5% body weight, 69.4% of boys and 73.2% of girls, respectively. Compared with boys, girls achieved greater reduction on BMI z-score at all intervals (p < 0.004 for all comparisons). Higher BMI percentile at baseline and increased frequency of use of the mobile application were directly associated with more significant weight loss. Conclusions: An entirely remote digital weight loss program is effective in facilitating weight loss in adolescents with overweight or obesity in the short term and mid term.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)311-321
Number of pages11
JournalChildhood Obesity
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • BMI
  • adolescents
  • digital health
  • digital intervention
  • obesity
  • weight loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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