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Obesity Prevention and Control: Digital Health Interventions for Adolescents with Overweight or Obesity


What the CPSTF Found

About The Systematic Review

The CPSTF recommendation is based on evidence from a systematic review published in 2018 (Ho et al., 8 studies [10 study arms], search period through December 2017) combined with more recent evidence (3 studies, search period December 2017–March 2019).

The systematic review was conducted on behalf of the CPSTF by a team of specialists in systematic review methods, and in research, practice, and policy related to obesity prevention and control.

Summary of Results

Detailed results from the systematic review are available in the CPSTF Finding and Rationale Statement.

The systematic review included 11 studies (13 study arms).

  • Body Mass Index (BMI) z-score decreased by a median of 0.10 (6 studies, 8 study arms)
  • Percent body fat decreased by 0.49 percentage points (3 studies)
  • BMI decreased by 0.39 kg/m2 and 0.27 kg/m2 (2 studies)

Summary of Economic Evidence

A systematic review of economic evidence has not been conducted.


The CPSTF finding should be applicable to adolescents recruited from healthcare settings, schools, or other community organizations, regardless of gender, income level, race, or ethnicity.

Evidence Gaps

The CPSTF identified several areas that have limited information. Additional research and evaluation could help answer the following questions and fill remaining gaps in the evidence base. (What are evidence gaps?)

  • What are the long-term effects of self-monitoring digital health interventions among adolescents?
  • What is the ideal intervention duration or level of intensity? Is a short, intense intervention more or less effective than a longer and less intense intervention?
  • What are the effects of adding access to healthier foods or safe and accessible opportunities for physical activity to the intervention?
  • What are the effects of adding social media to the intervention?
  • How effective are these interventions across different populations and settings (e.g., low income populations, students with disabilities, rural communities, isolated populations)?

Study Characteristics

  • Included studies were conducted in urban and suburban areas of the United States (6 studies), other high-income countries (4 studies), and one upper middle income country (1 study).
  • Adolescents in the included studies were 12-16 years of age, and represented African American, Hispanic, Asian American, and white populations.