(HealthDay News) – Use of a personal digital assistant (PDA) can improve adherence to all components of a weight-loss intervention.

Lora E. Burke, PhD, from the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues investigated whether the method of self-monitoring diet and exercise impacts adherence to five components of a weight-loss intervention, delivered in 39 group sessions over 18 months, as part of the 24-month Self-Monitoring and Recording with Technology trial. Two hundred ten participants were randomly allocated to self-monitoring with a paper diary, a PDA, or a PDA plus daily tailored feedback messages (PDA + FB). The weight-loss intervention components included attending group sessions, meeting daily energy goals, meeting daily fat goals, meeting the weekly exercise goal, and self-monitoring eating and exercise behaviors.

The researchers found that, compared with the paper diary group, adherence to the treatment protocol was significantly higher for attendance, self-monitoring, energy goals, and exercise goals (P <0.05 for all), but not significantly higher for fat goals (P=0.07), for the PDA + FB and PDA groups. Over time, adherence to all five components decreased in a nonlinear manner in all groups. For each of the five components, there was a significant group-by-time interaction for adherence. There was also a significant correlation between adherence to each component and weight change.

“These results suggest that using an electronic diary such as the PDA improves treatment adherence,” the authors write.

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