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Obesity (Silver Spring). 2007 Jan;15(1):155-64.

Weight loss on the web: A pilot study comparing a structured behavioral intervention to a commercial program.

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  • 1Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences, University of Vermont, 250 Carrigan Wing, 109 Carrigan Drive, Burlington, VT 05405, USA.



Internet weight loss programs have become widely available as alternatives to standard treatment, but few data are available on their efficacy. This study aimed to investigate the effectiveness of a structured behavioral weight loss website (VTrim) vs. a commercial weight loss website (


A randomized, controlled trial was conducted from February 2003 to March 2005, in 124 overweight and obese subjects ages 18 years and older with a BMI of 25 to 39.9 kg/m2 (mean age, 47 +/- 9 years; BMI, 32 +/- 3 kg/m2; 20% men). Analyses were performed for the 88 subjects who had complete follow-up data. Participants were randomly assigned to 12-month VTrim (n = 62) or (n = 62) intervention. VTrim participants had access to a therapist-led structured behavioral weight loss program delivered on-line. subjects had access to a self-help commercial on-line weight loss program. Body weight, social support, and use of website components were measured at 0, 6, and 12 months.


Repeated-measures analyses showed that the VTrim group lost significantly more weight than the group at 6 months (8.3 +/- 7.9 kg vs. 4.1 +/- 6.2 kg; p = 0.004) and maintained a greater loss at 12 months (7.8 +/- 7.5 kg vs. 3.4 +/- 5.8 kg; p = 0.002). More participants in the VTrim group maintained a 5% weight loss goal (65% vs. 37.5%; p = 0.01) at 12 months.


An on-line, therapist-led structured behavioral weight loss website produced greater weight loss than a self-help commercial website. Because commercial sites have great potential public health impact, future research should investigate the feasibility of incorporating a more structured behavioral program into a commercial application.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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