Online or computer-based weight management programs have the potential to treat obesity in a cost-effective manner, according to a Cochrane systematic review published online on August 15, 2012. The review was based on 14 studies of weight loss that included a total of 2537 participants and 4 studies of weight management that included a total of 1603 participants.
At 6 months, computer-based interventions led to an average of 1.5 kg more weight loss than minimal interventions in 2 weight loss trials, but to an average of 2.1 kg less weight loss than in-person interventions in 1 weight loss trial. Likewise, at 6 months, computer-based interventions led to an average of 0.7 kg less weight regain in 2 weight management studies, but to a (not statistically significant) average of 0.5 kg more weight regain than infrequent in-person treatment in 2 weight management trials. (Minimal interventions involved handing out weight loss or weight management pamphlets or providing usual care.)
The review authors note that, although computer-based interventions may be less effective than in-person interventions, computer-based interventions have the potential to reach far more patients at lower cost and therefore should be considered as treatment options.