A Theory-and Evidence-Based Digital Intervention Tool for Weight Loss Maintenance (NoHoW Toolkit): Systematic Development and Refinement Study

Marta M. Marques (Corresponding Author), Marcela Matos, Elina Lamminmäki, Jorge Encantado, Cristiana Duarte, Pedro J Teixeira, R James Stubbs, Falko F Sniehotta, Miikka Ermes, Marja Harjumaa, Juha Leppänen, Pasi Välkkynen, Marlene N Silva, Cláudia Ferreira, Sérgio Carvalho, Lara Palmeira, Graham Horgan, Berit Lilienthal Heitmann, Elizabeth H Evans, António L Palmeira

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    10 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: Many weight loss programs show short-term effectiveness, but subsequent weight loss maintenance is difficult to achieve. Digital technologies offer a promising means of delivering behavior change approaches at low costs and on a wide scale. The Navigating to a Healthy Weight (NoHoW) project, which was funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, aimed to develop, test, and evaluate a digital toolkit designed to promote successful long-term weight management. The toolkit was tested in an 18-month, large-scale, international, 2×2 factorial (motivation and self-regulation vs emotion regulation) randomized controlled trial that was conducted on adults with overweight or obesity who lost ≥5% of their body weight in the preceding 12 months before enrollment into the intervention.

    Objective: This paper aims to describe the development of the NoHoW Toolkit, focusing on the logic models, content, and specifications, as well as the results from user testing.

    Methods: The toolkit was developed by using a systematic approach, which included the development of the theory-based logic models, the selection of behavior change techniques, the translation of these techniques into a web-based app (NoHoW Toolkit components), technical development, and the user evaluation and refinement of the toolkit.

    Results: The toolkit included a set of web-based tools and inputs from digital tracking devices (smart scales and activity trackers) and modules that targeted weight, physical activity, and dietary behaviors. The final toolkit comprised 34 sessions that were distributed through 15 modules and provided active content over a 4-month period. The motivation and self-regulation arm consisted of 8 modules (17 sessions), the emotion regulation arm was presented with 7 modules (17 sessions), and the combined arm received the full toolkit (15 modules; 34 sessions). The sessions included a range of implementations, such as videos, testimonies, and questionnaires. Furthermore, the toolkit contained 5 specific data tiles for monitoring weight, steps, healthy eating, mood, and sleep.

    Conclusions: A systematic approach to the development of digital solutions based on theory, evidence, and user testing may significantly contribute to the advancement of the science of behavior change and improve current solutions for sustained weight management. Testing the toolkit by using a 2×2 design provided a unique opportunity to examine the effect of motivation and self-regulation and emotion regulation separately, as well as the effect of their interaction in weight loss maintenance.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere25305
    Pages (from-to)e25305
    JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 2021
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • Behavior change techniques
    • Emotion regulation
    • Logic models
    • MHealth
    • Motivation
    • Self-monitoring
    • Self-regulation
    • User testing
    • Weight management


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