We design, test, and disseminate digital obesity treatments.

We're especially interested in integrating digital health treatments into the primary care setting, particularly those that serve medically vulnerable patients. We developed the interactive obesity treatment approach (iOTA), have authored more than 150 scientific papers, and our research program has been continuously supported by the National Institutes of Health. You can find an almost complete list of our papers here). Here are some of our specific areas of interest:

Using digital treatments to improve weight loss outcomes

The inability to reliably produce clinically meaningful weight loss among medically vulnerable populations has been a persistent public health challenge. During the past half-decade, we have made important strides in using digital health technology to improve obesity treatment among medically vulnerable adults. The majority of these trials have been conducted in the primary care setting. We have demonstrated the ability to create scalable, fully automated, and highly personalized intervention technologies that produce high rates of engagement and deliver clinically meaningful outcomes in high-risk patient populations.

Bennett, G.G., Warner, E., Glasgow, R., Askew, S., Goldman, J., Ritzwoller, D., Emmons, K., Rosner, B., Colditz, G. (2012). Obesity treatment for socioeconomically disadvantaged patients in primary care practice. Archives of Internal Medicine, 172(7):565-74. PMCID: PMC3609656

Bennett, G.G., Foley, P.B., Levine, E., Whiteley, J., Askew, S., Steinberg, D., Batch, B., Greaney, M., Miranda, H., Wroth, T., Holder, M., Emmons, K.M., Puleo, E. (2013). Behavioral treatment for weight gain prevention among black women in primary care practice: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Internal Medicine, 173(19): 1770-7. PMCID: PMC3972760

Steinberg, D.M., Levine, E.L., Askew, S., Foley, P., Bennett, G.G. (2013). Daily text messaging for weight control among racial and ethnic minority women: randomized controlled pilot study. J Med Internet Res, 15(11):e244. PMCID: PMC3841371

Lin, P., Wang, Y., Levine, E., Askew, S., Lin, S., Chang, C., Sun, J., Foley, P., Wang, H., Li, X., Bennett, G.G. (2014). A text messaging-assisted randomized weight loss clinical trial among overweight adults in Beijing. Obesity, 22(5):E29-37.

Embedding digital therapeutics in primary care

Nationally, few low-cost, evidence-based obesity treatments are available in the primary care setting. Although provider-delivered lifestyle counseling can be helpful, it occurs infrequently. Capacity and reimbursement issues constrain the widespread availability of primary care-based dietitian counseling services. Compounding the challenge, there has been little uptake of evidence-based behavioral weight management interventions in primary care. Indeed, very few studies have investigated the efficacy of behavioral weight management interventions in the primary care setting; even fewer of these studies have included sociodemographically diverse patient populations. In a series of efficacy and pragmatic effectiveness trials, we have demonstrated the effectiveness of primary care-based obesity treatments in a range of challenged care delivery settings.

Bennett, G.G., Warner, E., Glasgow, R., Askew, S., Goldman, J., Ritzwoller, D., Emmons, K., Rosner, B., Colditz, G. (2012). Obesity treatment for socioeconomically disadvantaged patients in primary care practice. Archives of Internal Medicine, 172(7):565-74. PMCID: PMC3609656

Bennett, G.G., Herring, S., Puleo, E., Stein, E.K., Emmons, K.M., Gillman, M.W. (2010). Web-based weight loss in primary care: a randomized controlled trial. Obesity, 18(2):308-13. PMCID: PMC3710670

Bennett, G.G., Steinberg, D.M., Pagoto, S.L. (2015). Will obesity treatment reimbursement benefit those at highest risk? American Journal of Medicine. 2015 Jul 1;128(7):670-1.

Delivering comprehensive obesity care

Comprehensive obesity care includes more than weight loss treatment. Up to half of obese patients are uninterested in weight loss. Clinical practice guidelines recommend that these patients avoid weight gain prevention, but evidence-based treatment solutions are not available in the primary care setting. We provided the first evidence of an efficacious weight gain prevention treatment approach for the primary care setting.

Bennett, G.G., Foley, P.B., Levine, E., Whiteley, J., Askew, S., Steinberg, D., Batch, B., Greaney, M., Miranda, H., Wroth, T., Holder, M., Emmons, K.M., Puleo, E. (2013). Behavioral treatment for weight gain prevention among black women in primary care practice: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Internal Medicine, 173(19):1770-7. PMCID: PMC3972760

Steinberg, D.M., Levine, E.L., Lane, I., Askew, S., Foley, P.B., Puleo, E., Bennett, G.G. (2014). Adherence to self-monitoring via interactive voice response technology in an eHealth intervention targeting weight gain prevention among Black women: randomized controlled trial. J Med Internet Res, 16(4):e114. PMCID: PMC4019773

Steinberg, D.M., Askew, S., Lanpher, M.G., Foley, P.B., Levine, E.L., Bennett, G.G. (2014). The effect of a "maintain, don't gain" approach to weight management on depression among black women: results from a randomized controlled trial. Am J Public Health, 104(9):1766-73. PMCID: PMC4151935

Foley, P., Levine, E., Askew, S., Puleo, E., Whiteley, J., Batch, B., Heil, D., Dix, D., Lett, V., Lanpher, M., Miller, J., Emmons, K., Bennett, G.G. (2012). Weight gain prevention among black women in the rural community health center setting: the Shape Program. BMC Public Health, 12:305. PMCID: PMC3439671

Using digital therapeutics to improve population health

With the increasing penetration of mobile devices, we’ve seen great shifts in the digital divide. Populations that were historically disconnected now utilize mobile devices in ways that sometime exceed their more advantaged counterparts. This has raised the exciting possibility of utilizing digital health approaches to contend with health disparities. We have been leaders in advancing discussions about how to leverage the digital revolution to improve population health.

Bennett, G.G., Steinberg, D.M., Stoute, C., Lanpher, M., Lane, I., Askew, S., Foley, P.B., Baskin, M.L. (2014). Electronic health (eHealth) interventions for weight management among racial/ethnic minority adults: a systematic review. Obesity Reviews, 15 Suppl 4:146-58.

Pagoto, S., Bennett, G.G. (2013). How behavioral science can advance digital health. Translational Behavioral Medicine, 3(3):271–276. PMCID: PMC3771019

Bennett, G.G. (2012). Connecting eHealth with 2-1-1 to reduce health disparities. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 43(6 Suppl 5):S509-11.

Bennett, G.G., Glasgow, R.E. (2009). The delivery of public health interventions via the Internet: actualizing their potential. Annual Review of Public Health, 30:273-92.