The study is among the first to report successful weight loss within a low-income population -- a group that suffers from skyrocketing rates of obesity but has proven hard to treat, said Gary Bennett from Duke University in the US.
"This study shows we can help patients who are most at risk by embedding treatment in primary care settings and keeping patients engaged using a simple app," Bennett said.
In the study, patients in a primary care clinic used a free app called Track to monitor behaviour changes and also received follow up coaching calls from dieticians.
About 43 per cent of the participants lost more than five per cent of their body weight over the course of a year. Their waist sizes decreased, as did their blood pressure.
As much as 56 per cent of the participants lost at least three per cent of their body weight over 12 months, which doctors consider a healthy amount of weight loss.
The results are among the best obesity treatment outcomes seen in a medically vulnerable population, Bennett said.
At a time when obesity remains epidemic, the research also offers encouraging evidence of a treatment approach that can work in a primary care setting.
Most weight-loss research to date has focused on otherwise healthy people who just want to lose weight. Yet obesity very often exists side by side with other health problems.
"Most of what we know about obesity treatment is based on people who are reasonably healthy and highly motivated to lose weight," Bennett said.
"We've shown an ability to promote clinically meaningful weight loss among patients who need help the most, those with low motivation who already have the health risks associated with obesity," he said.
The study took place in a mostly rural area. To Bennett, the successful results suggest that digital obesity treatments can help close the gap between obesity care in urban and rural settings.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)