NIH awards Miriam Hospital, Beth Israel $1.3M for mobile-enabled weight loss study

By Aditi Pai
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ActiGraphThe National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has awarded Providence's Miriam Hospital and Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center a $1.3 million grant so that researchers can conduct a mobile-enabled study to research weight loss after bariatric surgery.

The researchers will begin recruiting participants for the study, who are bariatric surgery patients at Miriam Hospital and Beth Israel, in early 2016. The study will run for three years.

"Very little is known about why some people are more successful than others at keeping weight off after having bariatric surgery," Dale Bond, lead researcher and faculty in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at The Miriam Hospital's Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center said in a statement. "Behavioral factors are thought to be very influential, but guidelines for behavior changes among bariatric surgery patients are often vague and not well supported by scientific research. Our goal is to collect data to improve behavioral guidelines and help increase weight loss after bariatric surgery."

Researchers will use wristworn a health monitoring device, called ActiGraph, and smartphones to track food, physical activity, behavior, mood, hunger, and cravings for around 100 bariatric surgery patients. The researchers will track these patients before surgery and four times over the year after surgery. Other information researchers will collect include environmental factors, like foods available to patients and support from family and friends, to assess which factors predict weight loss.

The study builds on existing research that the two lead researchers, Bond and Graham Thomas, who is a faculty member in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at The Miriam Hospital, have worked on together. Bond and Thomas previously collected data to analyze some of the behaviors that might affect weight loss or gain that is associated with bariatric surgery.

Last November pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline announced that it was using ActiGraph devices and other mobile health tools in a small study — just six subjects — in a pilot study that could lead to their widespread use in the company's clinical trials.