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Technology can't replace human coaches in obesity treatment

Technology alone cannot replace the human touch to produce meaningful weight loss in obesity treatment, reports a new study. Giving people technology alone for the initial phase of obesity treatment produces unacceptably worse weight loss than giving them treatment that combines technology with a human coach. The need for low cost but effective obesity treatments delivered by technology has become urgent as the ongoing obesity epidemic exacerbates burgeoning health care costs.

A study from Northwestern University shows that current technology is not advanced enough to replace human coaches. Dubbed the "SMART" study, people who initially received technology, without coach support, were less likely to exhibit meaningful weight loss. What is considered "meaningful"? At least 5% of body weight.

This weight loss difference became more prevalent as time went on. The authors concluded "at this stage, the average person still needs a human coach to achieve clinically meaningful weight loss goals because the tech isn't sufficiently developed yet".

Previous research showed that mobile health tools for tracking diet, exercise and weight, increase engagement in behavioral obesity treatment. Before this new study, it was unclear whether they produced clinically acceptable weight loss in the absence of support from a human coach.

Drug and surgical interventions also are available for obesity but have some drawbacks. They are very expensive, convey medical risks and side effects, and are not equitably accessible. Most people who begin taking a GLP-1 agonist stop taking the drug within a year. 19 Semaglutide Side Effects You Should Know About - GoodRx

You can achieve clinically meaningful weight loss without anti-obesity medications, bariatric surgery or even behavioral treatment.

The Fitness Doctor Difference

My approach to treating obesity is scientific. I combine fundamental physiological principles, with proven behavioral modification methods, to ensure success. The key is matching treatment type, intensity, and behavioral models, to individuals' needs and preferences.


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