Which is better: Simply asking clients to track weight loss data, or asking them also to share that data with you? The latter, as it turns out, according to a recent pilot study in which participants achieved better results when sharing weight, eating and exercise data with a coach. Drexel University researchers in Philadelphia conducted the study during the “maintenance phase”—the 9-month period immediately following weight loss—of a 1-year weight loss program.

“We were interested to see if weight-loss maintenance would be better when coaches could see the data and provide feedback and a sense of accountability to participants, which might help sustain a high level of motivation to keep up healthy eating behaviors and physical activity,” said lead study author Meghan Butryn, PhD, associate professor and director of research in the WELL Center at Drexel University.

Investigators divided 77 subjects into two groups: One group shared self-monitoring data with a coach; the other met with the coach the same number of times, but the coach could not see participants’ Fitbit, wireless scale or digital food record data. Weight loss was consistent between both groups. However, those in the sharing group maintained their weight loss, while those who did not share data regained approximately 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds).

Researchers note that these findings suggest that sharing self-monitoring data with coaches helps to improve eating habits, weight and physical activity goals, but more research is warranted.

The study appeared in Obesity (2020; doi:10.1002/oby.23015).

See also: Tracker Information Motivates