Adding computer-generated messages to program increased effectiveness, researchers found
By Robert Preidt
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
TUESDAY, Nov. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Providing feedback to users of online weight-loss programs can improve the outcomes for participants, a new study has found.
The study included 179 people taking part in Shape Up RI, an annual online 12-week community weight-loss competition in Rhode Island. The average body mass index (BMI) of the participants was 34, which is classified as obese.
In one arm of the study, volunteers were assigned to the standard Shape Up RI program or to the program plus extra video lessons on weight loss. In the other study arm, participants were in either the standard Shape Up RI or the standard program plus video lessons, self-monitoring of weight, eating and exercise, and computer-generated feedback.
In the first study arm, adding just the video lessons did not lead to any significant increase in weight loss, an average of 3.1 pounds. In the second study arm, the addition of all three strategies led to an average weight loss of 7.7 pounds, the researchers found.
The number of participants who lost 5 percent or more of their body weight was more than three times higher in the second study arm -- 40.5 percent versus 13.2 percent, according to the report.
"The addition of videos alone did lead to a small increase in weight loss, but the combination of the three strategies produced much better outcomes," lead author Rena Wing, of the department of psychiatry and human behavior at Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University, said in a Center for Advancing Health news release.
"This finding would suggest that education about diet and activity changes alone is important, but not sufficient," she added.
The study appears online and in the December print issue of the American Journal of Public Health.
SOURCE: Center for Advancing Health, news release, Oct. 29, 2010