Telemedicine Services among Patients with Obesity during Quarantine Linked to Weight Loss, Healthier Eating

November 4, 2020
Sydney Jennings

Associate Editor of Patient Care Online

Patients with obesity who utilized telemedicine services during quarantine achieved an average 2 kg weight loss, according to new research presented at the ObesityWeek®2020 virtual meeting.

Telemedicine intervention among patients with obesity during the COVID-19 lockdown was associated with weight loss and positive eating behaviors, according to an abstract presented at the virtual ObesityWeek®2020 Interactive meeting.

Researchers sought to assess the impact of quarantine and the effects of a telemedicine intervention among 279 adults with obesity who visited the weight management center at Sheba Medical Center in Israel and responded to an online questionnaire (median age, 55 years; 69% women).

Participants reported various treatments for obesity, including bariatric surgery (43%), supportive and nutritional counseling alone (34%), and weight loss medications (16%).

Results showed that between March (when restrictions were first put in place in Israel) and May:
  • 28% of participants reported weight loss; 41% reported weight gain
  • 48% had a decline in mood
  • 66% consumed more homemade foods
  • 40% ate more often with members of their household
  • 33% ate in a more organized fashion

Also, out of the 139 participants who had visited the Sheba Medical Center within the past 6 months, 51 had video visits with a dietitian, physician, or mental health professional during lockdown. The participants who utilized the telemedicine service achieved an average 2 kg weight loss vs a 0.5 kg weight loss in those who did not utilize the service.

Participants who had no contact with the medical center during the past 6 months had an average 0.2 kg weight gain. In addition, >33% of patients who had video visits between March and May indicated that they would like to continue to receive telemedicine services in the future.

“Given convenience, patient preferences, and efficacy, we expect continued growth in the utilization of telemedicine to treat obesity and that this trend will improve outcomes beyond the current pandemic,” concluded authors.

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