Online Behavioral Weight Loss Strategies Combined with Social Tools Increase Weight Loss Impact Six-Fold, New Study Finds

PROVIDENCE, RI – ShapeUp, the leading global provider of social networking and incentives-based wellness solutions, today announced key findings from  a recent study examining the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of adding online and in-person behavioral weight loss interventions to an online social wellness platform. While combining online and in-person interventions increased the number of participants achieving a clinically significant weight loss eight–fold, the study showed that solely adding online tracking tools, automated feedback, and educational content increased the number six–fold.


The researchers analyzed the weight loss outcomes of 230 ShapeUp participants competing in a three-month, team-based fitness competition. Specifically, they found that adding evidence-based online behavioral interventions combined with optional in-person group sessions led to an average weight loss of 6.1% of total body weight and increased the number of participants who lost a clinically significant portion (5%) of their body weight eight–fold – from 6.5 percent to 54.3 percent. Perhaps most notably, among participants who received only the online behavioral interventions, the average weight loss was 4.2% of total body weight, and the number who achieved clinically significant weight loss increased six-fold from 6.5 percent to 42.2 percent. The study concluded that the addition of an Internet-based behavioral program alone was the more cost-effective method to enhance weight loss.


“The findings of this study are significant in that they reveal substantial progress in identifying cost-effective, scalable, online behavioral weight loss interventions that are capable of significantly improving outcomes,” said Dr. Rajiv Kumar, founder and CEO of ShapeUp and one of the co-authors of the study. “At ShapeUp, we believe that combining social support with evidence-based health interventions is a recipe for sustainable behavior change, and this study strengthens our conviction.”

Participants with access to the program’s online component leveraged weekly video lessons based on the National Diabetes Prevention Program and a self-monitoring platform in which they tracked their daily weight, nutrition, and activity information. On the basis of the information reported, participants also received weekly feedback on their progress. A subgroup of the study population had access to in-person, weekly, group-based educational sessions that included private weigh-ins and instruction on topics such as recipe modification and portion control.

The study, “Adding Evidence-Based Behavioral Weight Loss Strategies to a Statewide Wellness Campaign: A Randomized Clinical Trial,” was published in June 2014 in the American Journal of Public Health. It is co-authored by Drs. Tricia Leahey, Graham Thomas, and Rena Wing from The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University; Dr. Joseph Fava and Katie Krupel from Miriam Hospital’s Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center; Dr. Leslee Suback and Michael Schembri from the University of California San Francisco; and ShapeUp founders, Drs. Rajiv Kumar and Brad Weinberg. The study is based on results from the statewide, team-based wellness campaign, ShapeUp Rhode Island, which is powered by ShapeUp Inc.’s proprietary technology platform.

To learn more about the study, please visit:


About ShapeUp
ShapeUp is the leading global provider of clinically-proven, social networking and incentives-based employee wellness programs that help people exercise more, eat healthier, and improve their overall well-being. Founded in 2006 by two medical doctors, ShapeUp has pioneered an innovative approach to behavior change called Social Wellness™ that leverages the power of social networking, gaming, and financial rewards to improve the health of large populations and reduce healthcare costs. ShapeUp’s social wellness platform covers over three million lives across 129 countries and is used by more than 500 employers and health plans. Learn more about ShapeUp at

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: