Research with Online Diet Programs
Research Shows that
Online Dieting Programs Can Be Extremely Effective
Many Internet "surfers"
are finding the answers to their dieting questions on the Internet and are increasingly
subscribing to online dieting services. Research shows that Web-based programs
and support can help people lose weight. Read on to learn more about this exciting
Researchers, led by Deborah
Tate of Brown Medical School, divided overweight subjects into two groups (either
an Internet education group or an Internet behavior therapy group) for a period
of six months. All participants received an in person group weight loss session
and access to a Web site with resources about weight loss programs. The Internet behavior
therapy group also received feedback from therapists via email, participated in
online bulletin boards, submitted food diaries, tracked their exercise, etc. The
Internet behavior therapy group lost more weight (a total of nine pounds by the
end of the six months) as opposed to the 3.5 pounds lost by the Internet education
group. The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association
The second study, also led
by Tate and published in JAMA, evaluated 92 overweight men and women
with an average age of 48 and a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 33. (A BMI of 30 and
over is considered obese.) Participants were also at risk of diabetes and were
assigned to one of two groups – either a basic Internet program or an Internet
program coupled with email counseling. The group assigned to the basic Internet
program received a tutorial on weight loss, a new tip and a link each week of
various Internet resources. The participants in the email-counseling group also
received the tutorial and were assigned a weight loss counselor. Participants
in this group reported their calorie and fat intake, exercise and were able to
send any questions or comments to the therapist through a Web based diary. They
also were asked to submit their weight on a weekly basis.
Researchers found that after
a 12-month period, those in the Internet plus behavioral e-counseling program
lost an average of 10 pounds (a five percent loss of their initial body weight,
which scientists have found can have dramatic effect on a person’s overall
health – including their risk of developing diseases such as Type 2 diabetes).
Researchers also found that those who spent more time on the Web lost more weight.
Another study published
in Obesity Research and led by Jean Harvey-Berino found that online dieting was as effective as in-person counseling in promoting long-term weight
maintenance. After losing weight through a six-month program, participants were
assigned to one of three groups, either frequent in-person support (F-IPS), minimal
in-person support (M-IPS) or Internet support (IS). The researchers found that
those in the Internet support group were able to sustain a comparable weight loss
with those who received in-person support.
Baylor College of
Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine have also found that patients who used
the Internet to track their weight and received feedback from dietitians lost
an average of 11 pounds in a six week period. Participants were able to reduce
LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and blood glucose levels as well.