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JAMA. 2001 Mar 7;285(9):1172-7.

Using Internet technology to deliver a behavioral weight loss program.

Author information

  • 1Brown Medical School/Miriam Hospital, Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center, 14 Third St, RISE Bldg, Providence, RI 02906, USA. dtate@lifespan.org

Abstract

CONTEXT:

Rapid increases in access to the Internet have made it a viable mode for public health intervention. No controlled studies have evaluated this resource for weight loss.

OBJECTIVE:

To determine whether a structured Internet behavioral weight loss program produces greater initial weight loss and changes in waist circumference than a weight loss education Web site.

DESIGN:

Randomized, controlled trial conducted from April to December 1999.

SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS:

Ninety-one healthy, overweight adult hospital employees aged 18 to 60 years with a body mass index of 25 to 36 kg/m(2). Analyses were performed for the 65 who had complete follow-up data.

INTERVENTIONS:

Participants were randomly assigned to a 6-month weight loss program of either Internet education (education; n = 32 with complete data) or Internet behavior therapy (behavior therapy; n = 33 with complete data). All participants were given 1 face-to-face group weight loss session and access to a Web site with organized links to Internet weight loss resources. Participants in the behavior therapy group received additional behavioral procedures, including a sequence of 24 weekly behavioral lessons via e-mail, weekly online submission of self-monitoring diaries with individualized therapist feedback via e-mail, and an online bulletin board.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Body weight and waist circumference, measured at 0, 3, and 6 months, compared the 2 intervention groups.

RESULTS:

Repeated-measures analyses showed that the behavior therapy group lost more weight than the education group (P =.005). The behavior therapy group lost a mean (SD) of 4.0 (2.8) kg by 3 months and 4.1 (4.5) kg by 6 months. Weight loss in the education group was 1.7 (2.7) kg at 3 months and 1.6 (3.3) kg by 6 months. More participants in the behavior therapy than education group achieved the 5% weight loss goal (45% vs 22%; P =.05) by 6 months. Changes in waist circumference were also greater in the behavior therapy group than in the education group at both 3 months (P =.001) and 6 months (P =.005).

CONCLUSIONS:

Participants who were given a structured behavioral treatment program with weekly contact and individualized feedback had better weight loss compared with those given links to educational Web sites. Thus, the Internet and e-mail appear to be viable methods for delivery of structured behavioral weight loss programs.

PMID:
11231746
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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