The high proportion of overweight and obese people in Switzerland is a growing health problem for individuals and society. Changes in lifestyle can already lead to effective improvements. Nutritionists play an important key role in supporting clients in changing their behavior and thus in losing weight. Studies show that face-to-face advice as well as online advice can be effective methods for weight loss or weight maintenance. With the support of innovative, digital technologies, the consulting process can be designed flexibly. Although these technologies offer dieticians new opportunities for advising their clients, they are hardly used today. In this context, Oviva has developed an application for nutritionists to advise overweight clients online via a smartphone app.
Duration 01.03.2015 – 31.07.2018
Evaluation of the effectiveness / feasibility of nutritional advice via smartphone app for overweight and obese clients in a pre / post pilot study.
As part of the study, an intervention (online nutritional advice) was carried out over a period of one year. In phase 1 (twelve weeks), the participants were given intensive advice (five times a week) on their individual behavior change goals. In phase 2 (weeks 13 to 26), the participants received individual feedback three times a week. In weeks 27 to 52, an exchange took place once in two weeks via the app. In addition, information material on relevant nutrition issues was made available online throughout the intervention, tailored to the needs of the participants. A group chat could also be used. The following parameters were examined at different times (week 0, week 12, week 52): Weight change (primary outcome) as well as other anthropometric and clinical parameters (BMI, waist circumference, body fat, HbA1c, glucose, insulin, triglycerides, HDL cholesterol and blood pressure). In addition, data on physical activity, eating behavior, quality of life and self-efficacy were collected using a questionnaire.
After a year, qualitative interviews were also carried out with the participants in order to evaluate their experiences.
The study shows a clinically significant weight loss after one year of intervention with the Oviva app as well as other positive effects (e.g. BMI, body fat percentage, waist circumference, blood pressure, nutritional and exercise behavior). The evaluation of 15 qualitative interviews with participants also reveals numerous positive experiences, but also limits. The results and knowledge gained from the study can be used in practice for the nutritional counseling process and integrated into the training of the Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in nutrition and dietetics at the Bern University of Applied Sciences BFH.