JMIR mHealth and uHealth (May 2019)

Development of the Top Tips Habit-Based Weight Loss App and Preliminary Indications of Its Usage, Effectiveness, and Acceptability: Mixed-Methods Pilot Study

  • Kliemann, Nathalie,
  • Croker, Helen,
  • Johnson, Fiona,
  • Beeken, Rebecca J

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 7, no. 5
p. e12326


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BackgroundThe Ten Top Tips (10TT) is an intervention based on the habit formation theory that promotes a set of weight management behaviors alongside advice about repetition in a consistent context. Overall, 3 studies have demonstrated that the 10TT can support individuals to lose weight when delivered in a leaflet format. Delivery of 10TT via new technology such as a mobile app could potentially improve its effectiveness and make it more convenient, appealing, and wide reaching. ObjectiveThis study aimed to provide preliminary indications of the usage, effectiveness, and acceptability of an Android app of the 10TT intervention (Top Tips only app) and a second version including self-regulatory strategies for dealing with tempting foods (Top Tips plus app). MethodsThe 3-month pilot randomized adults with overweight or obesity to (1) Top Tips only app, (2) Top Tips plus app, or (3) waiting list condition. Automated data from app users were collected. Validated questionnaires assessed self-regulatory skills, weight loss (kg), and behaviors at baseline and 3 months. Users’ feedback on their experience using the app was assessed using open questions. ResultsA total of 81 participants took part in the pilot; 28 participants were randomized to the Top Tips only app, 27 to the Top Tips plus app, and 26 to the waiting list condition. On average, participants viewed a mean of 43.4 (SD 66.9) screens during a mean of 24.5 (SD 44.07) log-ins and used the app for 124.2 (SD 240.2) min over the 3-month period. Participants randomized to the Top Tips only app reported the greatest improvement in self-regulatory skills (mean 0.59, SD 1.0), weight loss (mean 4.5 kg, SD 5.2), and adherence to the target behaviors (mean 0.59, SD 0.49) compared with the Top Tips plus (meanself-regulation 0.15, SD 0.42; meanweight −1.9, SD 3.9; and meanbehaviors 0.29, SD 0.29) and waiting list condition (meanself-regulation −0.02, SD 0.29; meanweight −0.01, SD 0.51; and meanbehaviors 0.08, SD 0.38). Participants who reported the largest improvements, on average, viewed pages 2 to 3 times more, had 2 to 3 times more log-ins, logged their weight 2 to 3 times more, and achieved the tips more than those who reported smaller changes in these outcomes. According to users’ feedback, engagement with the app could be increased by making the app more interactive and allowing more tailoring. ConclusionsThis study suggests that the Top Tips app could potentially be a useful intervention for promoting eating self-regulatory skills, weight loss, and weight management behaviors among adults with overweight or obesity. Future research should develop the app further based on user feedback and test it in larger sample sizes. Trial RegistrationISRCTN Registry ISRCTN10470937; (Archived by Webcite at