Web and MobileTechnology Can Help People Adopt Healthy Habits

Female runner wearing a smart watch

Interventions that use the Internet, mobile phones, or other technology to encourage people to make healthy lifestyle changes work, though their long-term influence on habits remains unknown, according to a recently published analysis.

Researchers from the University of Washington reviewed 224 previously published studies that looked at using the Internet, mobile phone apps, personal sensors, or stand-alone computer software to encourage people to make healthy changes in their diet, physical activity, smoking, and alcohol use.

Many of the internet interventions helped people improve their diet, get more exercise, lose body weight and fat, and reduce smoking and excessive alcohol use. Many of the mobile phone-based programs helped people increase physical activity and lose body fat. In general, technology-based programs were more effective if they included some interaction with healthcare providers.

Almost all of the studies lasted less than a year, most for less than six months, making it impossible the examine whether people sustained their new habits in the long run. Participants in the studies also tended to be more highly educated than the general population, meaning that the effectiveness of technology-based interventions among less computer-literate groups remains unclear.

  • Read the study in the Journal of the American Heart Association
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