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Could a novel App replace hospital visits in the obesity therapy for adolescents?

In their randomized, controlled, not blinded study, the authors Aikaterini Stasinaki, Dirk Büchter, Chen-Hsuan (Iris) Shih, Katrin Heldt, Sabine Güsewell, Björn Brogle, Nathalie Farpour-Lambert, Tobias Kowatsch, and Dagmar l’Allemand examined the effects of a novel intervention with biofeedback exercises, the PathMate2 app, on BMI-SDS, body composition, physical performance, and stress parameters. Their control group had a usual behavioural and lifestyle modification therapy. The average daily usage rate of the PM app was 71.5% during half a year, which was considerably higher than the usual usage rates. Similar to the controls, the PathMate2 intervention resulted in significant and long-lasting improvements in physical performance skills and body composition, but not sustained BMI-SDS reduction. This youth-oriented mobile health intervention offers an interesting approach for youth with obesity who have limited access to health care. Biofeedback exercises reduced acute stress and could be an innovative addition to usual care.

For further details, please watch the main author’s video abstract below and refer to the full research article.


Stasinaki, A., Büchter, D., Shih, CH.I. et al. Effects of a novel mobile health intervention compared to a multi-component behaviour changing program on body mass index, physical capacities and stress parameters in adolescents with obesity: a randomized controlled trial. BMC Pediatr 21, 308 (2021).

Further relevant references:

Ells LJ, Rees K, Brown T, Mead E, Al-Khudairy L, Azevedo L. Interventions for treating children and adolescents with overweight and obesity: an overview of Cochrane reviews. Int J Obes (Lond). 2018;42(11):1823–1833; doi: https:// Epub 2018 Oct 9. Erratum in: Int J Obes (Lond). 2019 Apr 2.

L’Allemand D, Kirchhoff E, Bolten M, Zumbrunn A, Sempach R, Farpour- Lambert N, et al. Evaluation of the treatment of overweight children and adolescents in Switzerland: KIDSSTEP interim analysis of multi-professional group therapy programs until may 1st, 2012. Paediatrica. 2012;23(5):27–30.

Kowatsch T, Nißen MK, Shih C-H I, Rüegger D, Volland D, Filler A, et al. Text- based Healthcare Chatbots supporting patient and health professional teams: Preliminary results of a randomized controlled trial on childhood obesity. Persuasive Embodied Agents for Behavior Change (PEACH2017) Workshop, co-located with the 17th International Conference on Intelligent Virtual Agents (IVA 2017), Stockholm, Sweden. 2017. ethz-b-000218776.

Visual Abstract

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