WeightMentor, bespoke chatbot for weight loss maintenance: Needs assessment & Development

Samuel Holmes, Anne Moorhead, RR Bond, Huiru Zheng, Vivien Coates, Michael McTear

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)


Obesity and overweight are significant health risks. Effective communication can improve weight loss maintenance. There are technologies to support communication in weight management, such as text messaging that has been shown to benefit self-reporting and motivation but has its limitations. Having a conversation is an emotional experience, and chatbots are conversation-driven intelligent systems. Chatbots have been reported to increase compliance with health interventions. The aim of this study was to identify the needs of individuals who are maintaining weight loss in order to design and develop WeightMentor, a weight loss maintenance chatbot. This was a needs assessment and technology (chatbot) development study. The needs assessment identified the needs adults aged 18+ who were maintaining weight loss using semi-structure interviews. These needs were used to inform the design and development of a chatbot. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis. Findings identified five key themes: (1) Weight loss maintenance is challenging; (2) Social contact is beneficial but may also reinforce unhealthy habits; (3) Apps should be convenient and support progress tracking; (4) Personal messages should be specific and relevant; (5) Chatbots have potential for weight loss maintenance. Chatbot, WeightMentor, was designed and developed based on findings from the needs assessment and a review of the most popular nutrition apps. WeightMentor operates within Facebook messenger, which is currently one of the most popular social media platform. WeightMentor's purpose is to positively influence the user's emotions while maintaining weight loss. Its functions include self-reporting of diet and physical activity, viewing previous self-reporting trends, and motivational messaging. Chatbots such as WeightMentor has the potential to aid weight loss maintenance. Further research is required to test the usability and effectiveness of this WeightMentor.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2019 IEEE International Conference on Bioinformatics and Biomedicine (BIBM)
EditorsIllhoi Yoo, Jinbo Bi, Xiaohua Tony Hu
Place of PublicationSan Diego, CA, USA
PublisherIEEE Xplore
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-7281-1867-3
ISBN (Print)978-1-7281-1868-0
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 6 Feb 2020
Event2019 IEEE International Conference on Bioinformatics and Biomedicine -
Duration: 18 Nov 201921 Nov 2019


Conference2019 IEEE International Conference on Bioinformatics and Biomedicine
Abbreviated titleBIBM
Internet address

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
VII. ACKNOWLEDGMENT This research study is part of a PhD research project at the Ulster University, funded by the Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland. This research is partially supported by the STop Obesity Platform project, funded by H2020 H2020-MSCA-RISE-2018 (Grant agreement ID: 823978).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 IEEE.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • chatbots
  • obesity
  • usability
  • User Experience


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