The patients with severe obesity can lose around five per cent of their weight and the most body mass by using a smartphone app rather than attending face-to-face appointments, a new study has showed.

The app, Oviva, is now calling for the NHS to fully embrace digital as a core platform to help people living with obesity or other health conditions in post-Covid world.

In new peer-reviewed research, 169 people living with severe obesity took part in a tier 3 weight management programme for 12-16 weeks.

The programme was commissioned jointly by the NHS and a local authority in West Yorkshire and provided by digital weight management provider Oviva. Participants had a BMI of at least 40 – and were referred onto the programme by their GP.

The key findings of the study include:

  • an overwhelming majority of people (64.5%) opted to join the programme on the app, compared to 28.4 per cent who chose face-to-face participation and 7.1 per cent who opted for over the phone. This was even before Covid-19 hit
  • more than half of patients participating on the app (53%) lost five per cent of their weight. This compares to 47.9 per cent of face-to-face participants and 33 per cent of phone participants
  • app users lost the most body mass – an average of 6.1kg. Face-to-face patients lost a mean of 5.3kg, while those who took part over the phone lost 4kg
  • some three quarters of app users (74 per cent) cut their BMI by 1 unit, compared to 64 per cent of face-to-face participants and 58 per cent for those who took part over the phone.

“Here at Wakefield Council we wanted to incorporate the digital healthcare element into our weight management service as we felt it would improve accessibility and provide a tailored approach for our service users,” Cllr Jacquie Speight, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport.

“From our experiences we’ve found not only does it do this, it can also improve adherence and offer a level of flexibility that can only be beneficial for all involved.”

Rosemary Huntriss, who works at Oviva and has been the specialist weight-management dietitian involved in the evaluation, said: “Covid-19 has seen a switch to more people seeing their doctor and managing their conditions remotely – and the past year has shown us that the technology works, it’s convenient, and it has potential to save the NHS vast sums of money,”

“We’d like to see digital care being fully embraced as a core platform alongside face-to-face services within the NHS to support patients living with obesity or other chronic health conditions.”

NHS Digital approved, the Oviva app is available on the NHS App Library.

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