Trials use technology to help young adults achieve healthy weights

Sometime in the first half of 2011, nearly 400 overweight or obese university students will be recruited by researchers at the University of California, San Diego to test if technology can help the young adults lose weight.

 
UCSD School of Medicine professor Kevin Patrick is the principal investigator on the SMART clinical trial, and director of Calit2's Center for Wireless and Population Health Systems.

UC San Diego is one of seven sites selected to undertake clinical  trials that combine behavioral weight management programs with technologies such as text messaging, online social networking, and smart-phone apps.

In San Diego, the Social/Mobile Approaches to Reducing Weight (SMART) trial will feature mobile phones, Facebook and the Internet, and the trial will be carried out by researchers based in the Center for Wireless and Population Health Systems (CWPHS), part of the UCSD division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2).

Funding for all the trials aimed at engaging young adults in protecting their future heart health is from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

"These studies have the potential to teach us about successfully engaging young adults in achieving a healthy weight at a critical time in their lives," said Susan B. Shurin, M.D., acting director of the NHLBI. "Learning effective strategies for weight management further empowers young adults to protect their future heart health.

These studies are designed to provide evidence to help us guide young adults toward approaches that work and allow them to choose the options that work best for them."

The Early Adult Reduction of Weight through Lifestyle Intervention (EARLY) Trials seek to prevent weight gain and promote weight loss among young adults, defined as ages 18-35, through healthy eating and physical activity.