Once a person loses excess weight, the next great battle is keeping those pounds off!
A recent study from the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research found that people who consistently logged in to an interactive Internet version of a personal coach were able to keep the weight off. The key word is “consistently.”
For 6 months before the trial, men and women reduced their caloric intake and exercised in an effort to shed pounds. Those who lost at least 19 pounds were randomly assigned to 3 groups for weight maintenance. One group was self-directed, another contacted a health counselor once a month, and a third group relied on an interactive website. All of the participants were obese or overweight, and were taking medications for hypertension or high cholesterol.
Those men and women assigned to a personal coach regained the least amount of weight overall, but the ongoing expense sometimes does not make this an option.
At the end of 30 months, the people assigned to a personal coach regained on average 10 pounds, while the web site group regained 12.5 pounds and the self-directed group regained 14 pounds.
The men and women assigned to the weight-management website who visited the site once a month maintained more of their weight loss than patients who checked in sporadically. On the Web site, participants could record their weight, caloric intake, and minutes of exercise and compare that information with the goals they had set for themselves. A bulletin board allowed them to read other peoples’ success stories and share their own, as well as get advice from experts on exercise and behavior change.
A weight-management web site appears to be a good alternative to a personal coach for those who may not be able to afford personal coaching fees. You should look for a site where you can enter data on weight, caloric consumption, and exercise, and receive reminders if you forget to supply this information.
This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and published in J Med Internet Res. online July 27, 2010.