Purpose of Review
Telemedicine has become popular as an alternative for in-person weight loss treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic. This review focuses on weight loss interventions utilizing real-time telemedicine.
Telemedicine interventions are usually run as a weekly counseling and educational session or as a complement to a primarily Web-based intervention. A wide variety of healthcare professionals may provide the intervention. Common content includes portion control, increased physical activity, and relapse prevention. Self-monitoring is associated with intervention success. Modalities considered include online chats, text messages, phone calls, and videoconferences. Videoconferencing may be especially useful in capturing the interpersonal connection associated with in-person care but is understudied compared to other modalities. While many interventions show improvements in weight and weight-related outcomes, small sample sizes limit generalizability. Technology access and digital literacy are both necessary.
Telemedicine interventions can successfully help patients with obesity lose weight. Telemedicine interventions provide a safe, remote alternative and may expand treatment access to hard-to-reach populations. Further research is needed on telemedicine weight loss treatments for seniors, men, and ethnic minorities, as well as on the impact of long-term interventions.
Ufholz K, Bhargava D. A Review of Telemedicine Interventions for Weight Loss. Curr Cardiovasc Risk Rep. 2021;15(9):17. doi: 10.1007/s12170-021-00680-w. Epub 2021 Jul 15. PMID: 34306296; PMCID: PMC8280385.