Open Access Open Badges Research

Electronic feedback in a diet- and physical activity-based lifestyle intervention for weight loss: a randomized controlled trial

Sara L Shuger1, Vaughn W Barry2, Xuemei Sui2*, Amanda McClain3, Gregory A Hand2, Sara Wilcox2, Rebecca A Meriwether2, James W Hardin4 and Steven N Blair24

Author Affiliations

1 Salem College, 601 S. Church St., Winston-Salem, NC 27101, USA

2 Department of Exercise Science, University of South Carolina, 921 Assembly St., Columbia, SC 29208, USA

3 Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA

4 Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of South Carolina, 800 Sumter St., Columbia, SC 29208, USA

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2011, 8:41  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-8-41

Published: 18 May 2011



The SenseWear™ Armband (SWA) (BodyMedia, Inc. Pittsburgh, PA) is a physical activity and lifestyle monitor that objectively and accurately measures free-living energy balance and sleep and includes software for self-monitoring of daily energy expenditure and energy intake. The real-time feedback of the SWA can improve individual self-monitoring and, therefore, enhance weight loss outcomes.


We recruited 197 sedentary overweight or obese adults (age, 46.8 ± 10.8 y; body mass index (BMI), 33.3 ± 5.2 kg/m2; 81% women, 32% African-American) from the greater Columbia, South Carolina area. Participants were randomized into 1 of 4 groups, a self-directed weight loss program via an evidence-based weight loss manual (Standard Care, n = 50), a group-based behavioral weight loss program (GWL, n = 49), the armband alone (SWA-alone, n = 49), or the GWL plus the armband (GWL+SWA, n = 49), during the 9-month intervention. The primary outcome was change in body weight and waist circumference. A mixed-model repeated-measures analysis compared change in the intervention groups to the standard care group on weight and waist circumference status after adjusting for age, sex, race, education, energy expenditure, and recruitment wave.


Body weight was available for 62% of participants at 9 months (52% standard care, 70% intervention). There was significant weight loss in all 3 intervention groups (GWL, 1.86 kg, P = 0.05; SWA-alone, 3.55 kg, P = 0.0002; GWL+SWA, 6.59 kg, P < 0.0001) but not in the Standard Care group (0.89 kg, P = 0.39) at month 9. Only the GWL+SWA group achieved significant weight loss at month 9 compared to the Standard Care group (P = 0.04). Significant waist circumference reductions were achieved in all 4 groups at month 9 (Standard Care, 3.49 cm, P = 0.0004; GWL, 2.42 cm, P = 0.008; SWA-alone, 3.59 cm, P < 0.0001; GWL+SWA, 6.77 cm, P < 0.0001), but no intervention group had significantly reduced waist circumference compared to the Standard Care group.


Continuous self-monitoring from wearable technology with real-time feedback may be particularly useful to enhance lifestyle changes that promote weight loss in sedentary overweight or obese adults. This strategy, combined with a group-based behavioral intervention, may yield optimal weight loss.

Trial Registration NCT00957008