Weight Watchers wants to find out if connected scales really help

By Jonah Comstock
09:12 am
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PointsPlus Weight Watchers appWeight Watchers is recruiting for a randomized control trial that will test the addition of a connected scale into its online weight loss intervention, according to a posting on ClinicalTrials.gov.

The Miriam Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island will play host to a six-month double blind study that will compare Weight Watchers' online program with and without the addition of an electronic scale and weekly email feedback on weight loss. Participants will be provided with "an electronic scale that automatically transmits body weights to the Weight Watchers Online 2015 program, which generates a weekly feedback message on weight loss progress," according to the posting.

The study is recruiting 90 participants. While the primary outcome measure will be weight loss, the study will also assess engagement with the online program, which will also allow patients to input food and physical activity data.

Weight Watchers has already begun incorporating device data into its offerings. In September, it announced that its app would sync with activity trackers like Fitbit and Jawbone to offer users Weight Watchers points for using those devices. Connected scales weren't mentioned in that previous announcement, but Fitbit does offer one -- the Aria scale.

Weight Watchers has also been bolstering its digital health investments with acquisitions including Weilos, which offers users a picture taking app to document weight loss through selfies, and Wello, which connects users to professional trainers via two-way video messaging.

“We have an ambitious technology vision,” Weight Watchers CTO Dan Crowe said at the time of the Wello acquisition last May. “We will become a 21st-century technology organization, engineered for the digital era, whose innovative technology fundamentally improves the way people manage their weight, health and wellness. We will be agile service-oriented, data-driven, cloud-enabled and efficient. We will be a model for digital technology in the markets in which we compete and we will be a magnet for talented innovators both, inside and outside the company.”