Many saw ‘significant’ weight loss from the 12-week online program

August 2, 2022: People lost a “clinically significant” percentage of body weight 12 weeks after starting a fully automated online program developed by researchers at Brown University.

Primary care physicians offered the free obesity treatment program during routine care. Each week, people reported changes in weight and activity and calorie intake; attended online lessons; and received personalized feedback.

The 464 people who participated for at least 1 week lost an average of 5% of their body weight. And those who followed the plan for all 12 weeks lost an average of 7%.

The researchers note that this short-term weight loss was achieved without personal counseling, which may limit weight management in crowded primary care settings.

“Obesity is a highly stigmatized condition,” says lead researcher J. Graham Thomas, PhD.

People participate in the Rx Weight Loss program in the privacy of their own homes. He says this not only makes it more convenient, but it could be a boon for people who are uncomfortable monitoring their weight with other people.

Ideally, health care providers could offer the online program as an opportunity for patients “rather than something punitive,” says Thomas, a researcher at the Weight Management and Diabetes Research Center at Miriam Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island. .

the to study was published online on July 27 in the magazine Obesity.

In three previous controlled clinical trials led by the same research team, the weight loss program was linked to average weight losses of 4.2% to 5.8%. In the current study, researchers were not directly involved, and Thomas says he was encouraged that the physician-led initiative led to similar results.

See also  Public Comment Period on the National Flood Insurance Program Minimum Floodplain Management Standards

About 11 pounds lost

Physicians from the Rhode Island Primary Care Physician Corporation, which includes 100 physicians at 60 sites, offered the program to patients during routine care. To be eligible, people had to be between the ages of 18 and 75, have Internet access, speak English fluently, and have a body mass index (BMI) of 25 kilograms per square meter (kg/m2) or more.

The average age of people in the study was 53, 70% were women, and the average BMI was 36.2.

A BMI of 25 or higher means you are overweight, while those with a BMI of 30 or higher are considered obese.

The 5.1% average decrease in body weight at 12 weeks translated to just over 11 pounds of average weight loss.

‘Very encouraging’

The study results are “very encouraging,” says Gareth R. Dutton, PhD, who was not involved in the study.

Previous strategies had limits, he says.

“Fully automated interventions that have no staff-to-participant contact often achieve modest weight loss,” says Dutton, a professor of medicine and researcher at the University of Alabama Nutritional Obesity Research Center at Birmingham.

Weight loss programs recommended by primary care doctors have often worked even worse, he says.

“Weight-loss interventions delivered through primary care are challenging due to many barriers, including limited resources and time,” says Dutton, who is also principal investigator of a to study which aims to enroll 400 primary care patients to compare daily self-weight with standard care.

Letting doctors and their staff refer patients to an evidence-based weight-loss program has great potential, he says.

See also  What if you can't 'beat budget' on inflation? | Smart Switch: Personal Finance

Seeking to improve acceptance

The Rx Weight Loss program was offered to 1,721 general primary care patients.

When asked why only 26% of people offered the program agreed to participate, Thomas responded, “No matter how good the program is, it’s just never going to be the right time for a lot of people to add this to their lives, particularly given the last few years where people are experiencing a lot of challenges and a lot of stressors.

“Even though it’s an online program, addressing obesity always involves making substantial changes to eating and activity patterns,” he said.

future steps

The researchers plan to look for ways to get more people on the show.

It’s not yet available for widespread use by others, but that’s the goal. Thomas said they learned ways during the study to make the fully automated online program easier for others to adopt.

Measuring any effect on weight loss after 1 year is the primary goal of the study. “I think we’re hoping to find something similar to what we’ve seen in previous studies, which is that a certain amount of weight regain will be the norm” at one year, Thomas said.

“But a certain amount of weight loss and associated health benefits will persist, making it worthwhile even if, on average, there is a gradual recovery.”