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Behavioral Counseling at Work Helps With Weight Loss, Information Becomes Imbedded in Culture

Posted Oct 17 2013 8:36am

Losing weight isn't easy with junk food, and breaking your diet for a moment of gorging bliss with a bag of Doritos can be all it takes to send you right over the edge. But fear not. New programs that include dietary advice coupled with behavioral counseling appear to be a promising approach for men and women who are looking to shed some pounds, according to a pilot study conducted by researchers at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Researcher Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts University.

Employees enrolled in the intervention lost an average of 18 pounds over a six-month period compared to the two pound weight gain found in the control group. 

"Although previous research has focused on weight loss interventions based in office settings, those Bee Pollen Weight Loss studies that we are aware of report modest weight loss over periods ranging from three months to two years. To the best of our knowledge , our approach is unique because of the inclusion of a strong behavioral component," says Senior Author Sai Krupa Das, Ph.D., a scientist in the Energy Metabolism Laboratory at the USDA HNRCA at Tufts University according to reports. "Over the course of the intervention, a counselor with training in both nutrition and behavior modification met at first weekly and later bi-weekly with the participants as a group during their lunch hour. In these sessions, discussions focused on strategies for menu planning, portion control and managing hunger, as well as dealing with stress-related and emotional eating. The participants also received individual support in a weekly e-mail exchange with the counselor."

The study focused on women and men from four Boston area companies with a body mass index (BMI) that classified them as overweight or obese.Thirty-four employees from the other two companies served as the control group.

For six months, the employees enrolled in the intervention followed a reduced calorie diet, emphasizing low-glycemic li da daidaihua and high fiber foods that are less likely to raise blood sugar. The participants were responsible for purchasing and preparing their own food.

At the completion of the intervention, Das and colleagues observed substantial improvements in cardiovascular health  and risk for diabetes for those enrolled in the intervention.

"Based on our results, it seemed the weight loss intervention became embedded in the office culture and also helped the weight of people who were not enrolled in the program," said Susan B. Roberts, Ph.D., a co-author of the study and director Meizitang of the Energy Metabolism Laboratory. "We made an effort to reach employees who were not involved by producing a series of newsletters and holding monthly seminars on general health-related topics such as cardiovascular health, childhood nutrition and exercise."


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