Prevention and treatment of pediatric obesity using mobile and wireless technologies: a systematic review

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Mobile health (mHealth) is a relatively nascent field, with a variety of technologies being explored and developed. Because of the explosive growth in this field, it is of interest to examine the design, development and efficacy of various interventions as research becomes available. This systematic review examines current use of mHealth technologies in the prevention or treatment of pediatric obesity to catalogue the types of technologies utilized and the impact of mHealth to improve obesity-related outcomes in youth. Of the 4021 articles that were identified, 41 articles met inclusion criteria. Seventeen intervention studies incorporated mHealth as the primary or supplementary treatment. The remaining articles were in the beginning stages of research development and most often described moderate-to-high usability, feasibility and acceptability. Although few effects were observed on outcomes such as body mass index, increases in physical activity, self-reported breakfast and fruit and vegetable consumption, adherence to treatment, and self-monitoring were observed. Findings from this review suggest that mHealth approaches are feasible and acceptable tools in the prevention and treatment of pediatric obesity. The large heterogeneity in research designs highlights the need for more agile scientific processes that can keep up with the speed of technology development.

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