Social Mobile Approaches to Reducing Weight (SMART) 2.0: protocol of a randomized controlled trial among young adults in university settings

Trials 2022


Background: Excess weight gain in young adulthood is associated with future weight gain and increased risk of chronic disease. Although multimodal, technology-based weight-loss interventions have the potential to promote weight loss among young adults, many interventions have limited personalization, and few have been deployed and evaluated for longer than a year. We aim to assess the effects of a highly personalized, 2-year intervention that uses popular mobile and social technologies to promote weight loss among young adults.
Methods: The Social Mobile Approaches to Reducing Weight (SMART) 2.0 Study is a 24-month parallel-group randomized controlled trial that will include 642 overweight or obese participants, aged 18–35 years, from universities and community colleges in San Diego, CA. All participants receive a wearable activity tracker, connected scale, and corresponding app. Participants randomized to one intervention group receive evidence-based information about weight loss and behavior change techniques via personalized daily text messaging (i.e., SMS/MMS), posts on social media platforms, and online groups. Participants in a second intervention group receive the aforementioned elements in addition to brief, technology-mediated health coaching. Participants in the control group receive a wearable activity tracker, connected scale, and corresponding app alone. The primary outcome is objectively measured weight in kilograms over 24 months. Secondary outcomes include anthropometric measurements; physiological measures; physical activity, diet, sleep, and psychosocial measures; and engagement with intervention modalities. Outcomes are assessed at baseline and 6, 12, 18, and 24 months. Differences between the randomized groups will be analyzed using a mixed model of repeated measures and will be based on the intent-to-treat principle.
Discussion: We hypothesize that both SMART 2.0 intervention groups will significantly improve weight loss compared to the control group, and the group receiving health coaching will experience the greatest improvement. We further hypothesize that differences in secondary outcomes will favor the intervention groups. There is a critical need to advance understanding of the effectiveness of multimodal, technology-based weight-loss interventions that have the potential for long-term effects and widespread dissemination among young adults. Our findings should inform the implementation of low-cost and scalable interventions for weight loss and risk-reducing health behaviors.

Trials volume 23, Article number: 7 (2022)
Nadir Weibel
Nadir Weibel
Associate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering