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JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2017 Jun 8;5(6):e80. doi: 10.2196/mhealth.7591.

A Mobile Phone-Based Health Coaching Intervention for Weight Loss and Blood Pressure Reduction in a National Payer Population: A Retrospective Study.

Author information

School of Medicine, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, United States.
Department of Medicine, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA, United States.
RubiconMD, New York, NY, United States.
Vida Health Inc, Mountain View, CA, United States.
Department of Family & Community Medicine, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, United States.



The prevalence of obesity and associated metabolic conditions continue to be challenging and costly to address for health care systems; 71% of American adults were overweight, with 35% of men and 40% of women diagnosed with obesity in 2014. Digital health coaching is an innovative approach to decreasing the barriers of cost and accessibility of receiving health coaching for the prevention and management of chronic disease in overweight or obese individuals.


To evaluate the early impact of a mobile phone-based health coaching service on weight loss and blood pressure management in a commercially insured population.


This was a retrospective study using existing registry data from a pilot commercial collaboration between Vida Health and a large national insurance provider, which enrolled adult members who were overweight (body mass index >25 kg/m2) and able to engage in a mobile phone-based coaching intervention. Participants received 4 months of intensive health coaching via live video, phone, and text message through the Vida Health app. Participants were also provided with a wireless scale, pedometer, and blood pressure cuff. Of the 1012 enrolled, 763 (75.40%) participants had an initial weight upon enrollment and final weight between 3 and 5 months from enrollment; they served as our intervention group. There were 73 participants out of the 1012 (7.21%) who had weight data 4 months prior to and after Vida coaching, who served as the matched-pair control group.


Participants in the intervention group lost an average of 3.23% total body weight (TBW) at 4 months of coaching and 28.6% (218/763) intervention participants achieved a clinically significant weight loss of 5% or more of TBW, with an average of 9.46% weight loss in this cohort. In the matched-pair control group, participants gained on average 1.81% TBW in 4 months without Vida coaching and lost, on average, 2.47% TBW after 4 months of Vida coaching, demonstrating a statistically significant difference of 4.28% in mean percentage weight change (P<.001). Among 151 intervention participants with blood pressure data, 112 (74.2%) had a baseline blood pressure that was above the goal (systolic blood pressure >120 mmHg); 55 out of 112 (49.1%) participants improved their blood pressure at 4 months by an entire hypertensive stage-as defined by the Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure.


Mobile phone app-based health coaching interventions can be an acceptable and effective means to promote weight loss and improve blood pressure management in overweight or obese individuals. Given the ubiquity of mobile phones, digital health coaching may be an innovative solution to decreasing barriers of access to much-needed weight management interventions for obesity.


blood pressure; digital health coaching; mobile health; obesity; overweight; weight

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