Researchers have discovered that people are likelier to adopt healthy behaviors with encouragement and guidance from the internet and their mobile devices.

For a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the researchers reviewed 23 years worth of literature and discovered that internet- and mobile-based programs can be effective in pushing people to eat better and be more physically active, which can then result in modest weight loss over the course of three to 12 months.

The researchers reviewed 224 studies published from 1990 to 2013, evaluating the effects of using the internet, mobile phones, stand-alone software tools and personal sensors in inspiring behavioral changes in people.

Based on their findings, the researchers saw that those who used internet-based programs were able not only to improve their diets, but became more active as well, alongside cutting back on excessive alcohol intake and tobacco use. People who turned to mobile device-based programs, like apps or those that sent voice or text message reminders, on the other hand, were able to increase their physical activity.

According to the researchers, programs that promote self-monitoring and goal-setting while offering multiple means of communication with specific messages were effective, with results improving even more when some level of interaction with health care providers involved.

"Clinicians, in particular in primary care settings, can use such programs to help people improve their lifestyle behaviors and reduce the risk of chronic disease," said Ashkan Afshin, lead author of the study.

The current study is somewhat limited because it reviewed literature from research carried out in less than six months, offering limited information regarding the long-term effects of internet- and mobile device-based programs.

For a clearer overview of the effects of these programs, the researchers note the need to study not only longer-term research but also those that involve different sets of populations.

Positive lifestyle changes offer a number of benefits and most of these have to do with maintaining a healthy weight. Obesity has always been a concern but it is now even more worrying after it was linked to eight more cancer types.

Now, excess weight has been associated with uterine, breast, esophagus, colon and kidney cancers, as well as those of the thyroid, ovary, pancreas, liver, gall bladder and stomach. Additionally, extra poundage is connected to multiple myeloma (a type of blood cancer) and meningioma (a tumor in the brain).

All over the world, some 640 million adults and 110 million children are obese. In the United States, about a third of adults and children weigh more than they should, which puts them at risk of a variety of health conditions.

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