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In Translational behavioral medicine

Smartphone weight loss apps are constantly being developed but the essential elements needed by a multi-ethnic population with overweight and obesity remains unclear. Purpose: To explore the perceptions of an Asian multi-ethnic population with overweight and obesity on the essential elements of weight loss apps. Twenty two participants were purposively sampled from a specialist weight management clinic in Singapore from 13 April to 30 April 2021. Recorded interviews were conducted using face-to-face and videoconferencing modalities. Data saturation was reached at the 18th participant. Data analysis was performed using inductive content analysis with constant comparison between and within transcripts. Findings: Three themes and eight subthemes on the essential app components emerged-(a) comprehensive and flexible calorie counters; (b) holistic, gradual and individualized behavior change recommendations tailored for people with overweight and obesity, and (c) just-in-time reminders of future consequences. There was a need to incorporate flexible options for food logging; break down general recommendations into small steps towards sustainable changes; tailor app contents for people with overweight and obesity; and evoke one's considerations of future consequences. Future weight loss apps should be designed to meet the needs of those with overweight and obesity, the very population that needs assistance with weight loss. Future apps could consider leveraging the capacity of artificial intelligence to provide personalized weight management in terms of sustaining self-regulation behaviors, optimizing goal-setting and providing personalized and timely recommendations for weight loss.

Chew Han Shi Jocelyn, Lim Su Lin, Kim Guowei, Kayambu Geetha, So Bok Yan Jimmy, Shabbir Asim, Gao Yujia


App, BMI, Behavior, Perceptions, Weight management, mHealth