App created in Portugal helps fight obesity and overweight

A team of researchers from the Center for Research in Neuropsychology and Cognitive-Behavioral Intervention (CINEICC) at the University of Coimbra (UC), led by José Pinto Gouveia, developed a mobile application (app) to help fight obesity and overweight.

The app was developed as part of the eBEfree project, which aims to provide emotional regulation tools and strategies that allow people with obesity or excess weight to eliminate or significantly reduce episodes of compulsive food intake, and increase their mental health and quality of life.

In the current context of the Covid-19 pandemic, “especially with the general confinement in our country, several studies suggest that isolation is accompanied by a reduction in people’s mental health. In this sense, the eBEfree project, namely due to its digital format, aims to be a contribution especially appropriate to the current situation”, explains the project team, financed by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT).

The eBEfree app consists of 12 modules, made available one per week, that address different perspectives of the problem. “The contents for the treatment of compulsive food intake, such as emotional regulation strategies through behavioral exercises and meditation, were developed using explanatory animation videos, audio exercises and videos of our team’s psychologists addressing the relevant topics”, Details José Pinto Gouveia, adding that the application also includes a discussion forum, “where users can ask questions to therapists (there will always be a therapist to monitor the operation of the app)”.

To test and validate the effectiveness of the application, the team is requesting the collaboration of people from all over the country, aged between 18 and 55 years, with excess weight and compulsive food intake, and who have a smartphone or tablet with Internet access. Volunteers wishing to participate in the study should contact the research team through the e-mail address:

Participation in the study will involve an initial interview, via zoom, to assess the eligibility criteria, the completion of a battery of online questionnaires and the use of the mobile application.

EBEfree is the result of a previous study whose results showed that #these tools for emotional regulation and mental health promotion are effective when implemented in person in a group format. What we want with eBEfree is to expand this study to reach the entire national territory, with all the advantages of a mobile application”, concludes José Pinto Gouveia.

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