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To Help Keep Weight Off, Turn to the Web
Date:7/27/2010

most one-third have used the Web for weight control information, her team designed an Internet-based tool to help with weight maintenance.

The 348 participants involved in the Internet-based weight maintenance phase of this study had a body mass index of 25 or higher (a BMI of 25 is considered overweight, over 30 is considered obese), and were considered high risk for cardiovascular disease because they either had high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

The Web site was available to the study volunteers for 30 months. The site was designed to support weight maintenance efforts through:

  • Reinforcing existing behavioral self-management
  • Encouraging new self-management skills
  • Improving self-monitoring
  • Encouraging long-term use of the Web site by providing innovative content
  • Promoting social support

After 28 months, 65 percent of the study participants were still actively logging on, according to the study. Fifty percent of the study volunteers logged on at least 107 times and spent over 400 minutes on the Web site, with each session lasting an average of 3 to 5 minutes.

If the study participants didn't record their weight at least once a week, they would receive email reminders to check in.

"Participants who used the site most often and consistently throughout the study had better weight maintenance results than those who didn't use it as often. Consistency and accountability are key," said Funk. She added that the social support from others available on the site, as well as its interactive content, likely also played roles in weight maintenance success.

Round-the-clock access was key, too. "Personal counseling is probably the Cadillac of weight loss and weight maintenance plans, but the availability of the Internet was a big part of the success here. The Web site was available 24/7," she noted.

"I think that it's good to show what needs to be emphasized when it com
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