FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. -- Internet-based programs may be as effective as face-to-face support groups for weight loss maintenance, Jean Harvey-Berino, Ph.D., reported at the annual meeting of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity.
Dr. Harvey-Berino's findings are based on the results of a weight loss intervention study involving 255 people aged 18 years or older, with a mean body mass index (BMI) of 32. The subjects took part in a weight loss intervention with face-to-face counseling via interactive television for 6 months.
Paticipants then were randomly assigned to one of three follow-up methods for 12 months: interactive television for frequent in-person support, the Internet, or minimal in-person support (controls).
All three groups maintained nearly identical weight losses over the follow-up period: a mean of 5.6% for the frequent in-person support group, 8.2% for the Internet support group, and 6% for the minimal in-person support.
Overall, the participants had lost about 8 kg at the 6-month point and maintained a 6-kg weight loss after another 12 months, said Dr. Harvey-Berino of the University of Vermont, Burlington.
Meeting attendance was significantly higher in the in-person group than the Internet group (10 vs. …