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Post-surgical study

Study to examine post surgical weight loss predictors

Data from the three-year study will focus on understanding how to help maximise weight loss

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has awarded a US$1.3 million research project grant to The Miriam Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center to use advanced monitoring technology to examine behavioural, psychosocial and environmental predictors of weight loss following bariatric surgery.

Dale Bond

"Very little is known about why some people are more successful than others at keeping weight off after having bariatric surgery," said Dr 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. "Behavioural factors are thought to be very influential, but guidelines for behaviour changes among bariatric surgery patients are often vague and not well supported by scientific research. Our goal is to collect data to improve behavioural guidelines and help increase weight loss after bariatric surgery."

In this study, wristwatch-like sensor devices and smartphones will be used to measure factors such as eating and physical activity behaviour, mood, hunger and cravings in approximately 100 bariatric surgery patients at the Miriam Hospital and also Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a second data collection site for the study. Patients, who will be recruited beginning in early 2016, will be followed before surgery and four times over the year after surgery. Researchers will collect information about environmental factors, such as foods available to patients and support from family and friends, to assess which factors predict weight loss.

Graham Thomas

"The study is exciting because this could lead to improved behavioural guidelines and new behavioural treatments, strategies and tools to maximize weight loss after bariatric surgery," said Dr Graham Thomas, also a lead researcher on the study and faculty in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at The Miriam Hospital's Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center.

This project is an extension of existing research Bond and Thomas have conducted using real-time data collection methodologies to analyse weight-related behaviours associated with bariatric surgery. That includes Bond's study of physical activity and sedentary behaviour and Thomas' use of mobile health (mHealth) technology to measure and intervene on behaviours in real time.

"Not enough research has been conducted on behavioural, psychological, and environmental predictors of weight loss after bariatric surgery," added Bond. "This study will help to fill the gap using a unique and highly innovative mobile health platform combining sensor technology with a smartphone-based, self-reporting tool to measure behavioural, psychological and environmental predictors of weight loss continuously - in real time - in the patient's natural environment."

"Bariatric surgery is a powerful tool for weight loss," said Dr Siva Vithiananthan, chief of minimally invasive and bariatric surgery at The Center for Bariatric Surgery, a programme of Rhode Island and The Miriam Hospitals, also a researcher on the study. "By making key behaviour changes, it may be possible for patients to get the greatest health benefit, and at the same time, we may have more information to better inform patients about steps they can take to boost weight loss after bariatric surgery."

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