Remote-Coaching for Weight Loss: Remote Interventions May Facilitate Weight Loss, said the Journal of the American Medical Association (vol. 306, #24, December 28). Some excerpts:

A behavioral intervention that combines regular weight-loss coaching through face-to-face sessions or remotely by telephone along with Web-based support may help patients with obesity lose weight, according to new research.

At the American Heart Association’s annual Scientific Sessions held here in November, researchers presented findings showing that such behavioral interventions were able to produce sustained and clinically significant weight loss over a 2-year period.

Moreover, the investigators found that the remote-directed program was as effective in achieving weight loss as in-person support using group and individual intervention sessions.

The work was simultaneously published in the New England Journal of Medicine….


For the study, the researchers randomly assigned 415 obese patients with at least 1 cardiovascular risk factor (hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, or diabetes) and a mean body mass index of 36.6 to a remote-intervention group (using the telephone, a study-specific Web site, and e-mail), an in-person support group (including encouragement to use the study-specific Web site), or a control group in which weight loss was self-directed.

The coaches in the intervention groups collaborated with primary care providers to promote weight loss, focusing on key weight-management behaviors, such as reducing calorie intake, increasing exercise, maintaining food records, and interacting with the study Web site.

The Web site provided learning modules, self-monitoring tools and graphs, and feedback regarding weight-loss progress.

After 2 years, patients in the remote support group lost an average of 4.6 kg while those receiving in-person support lost 5.1 kg, a difference that was not statistically significant.


“We believe the remote intervention consisting of phone counseling and the Internet has the possibility for widespread dissemination and could be applicable to other chronic conditions,” [Lawrence J. Appel, MD, MPH, lead researcher and professor of medicine, epidemiology, and international health at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore] said at a press conference.

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