© The Author(s) 2014. We conducted a systematic review of the literature on the use of mobile phones for weight loss. A total of 43 studies were identified on obese or overweight adults, aged 18 years or over. After review, ten articles met the inclusion criteria. There were 19–534 participants per study. Participants were from European, Asian and North American regions. The mean body mass index (BMI) of the subjects varied from 22 to 36 kg/m2. Two studies used text messaging or multimedia messaging. All the other studies used mobile-phone apps or web-based programmes that could be accessed from mobile phones as a part of a weightloss intervention or for evaluating their potential for use and their acceptance. Most studies lasted 2–4 months and the maximum duration was 1 year. All but two studies showed reductions in the participants’ bodyweight, BMI, waist circumference and body fat in the various interventions. There appeared to be a proportional relationship between weight loss and programme use. The programmes most benefited those who took a pro-active approach to everyday problems. Frequent self-recording of weight seemed to be important, as was the personalisation of the intervention (counselling and individualized feedback). Finally, a social support system acted as a motivational tool.