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Obes Res. 2001 Nov;9 Suppl 4:271S-275S.

Food provision as a strategy to promote weight loss.

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Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center, Miriam Hospital/Brown Medical School, Providence, Rhode Island 02906, USA.


Intervention strategies used in weight-control programs typically rely on participants to make behavior changes on their own. Better results might be achieved if more direct approaches were taken to make environmental changes by providing food to participants and paying them for weight loss. Two studies on food provision for improving weight loss were conducted. The first study used a five-group design contrasting no treatment, standard behavior therapy (SBT), SBT plus food provision, SBT plus financial incentives, and SBT plus food provision and incentives. At 6, 12, and 18 months, weight losses in the two groups receiving food provision were significantly greater than in the two groups without food provision. The incentives did not affect weight loss. To better understand the reasons for the success of food provision a second study was conducted comparing SBT, SBT plus menus, SBT plus food provision with a copay, and SBT plus free food. Groups 2, 3, and 4 all had better weight losses than SBT and did not differ from each other at the end of the 6-month treatment and at the 18-month follow-up. Food provision and menus were associated with increased behavior compliance, increased nutrition knowledge, more regular meals and fewer snacks, reduced barriers to weight loss, and improved quality of foods in participants' homes. Food provision seems to be a useful strategy for promoting weight loss.

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