An Automated Internet Behavioral Weight-Loss Program by Physician Referral: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Thomas, J. Graham; Leahey, Tricia M.; Wing, Rena R.
January 2015
Diabetes Care;Jan2015, Vol. 38 Issue 1, p9
Academic Journal
OBJECTIVE To evaluate 3- and 6-month weight-loss outcomes achieved when physicians refer overweight/obese patients to an automated 3-month Internet-based behavioral weight-loss intervention. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS A total of 154 patients age 18-70 years with a BMI between 25 and 45 kg/m² and access to a personal computer and the Internet were randomly assigned to 3 months of Internet behavioral intervention (IBI; n = 77) with 12 weekly videos teaching behavioral weight-loss skills, a platform for submitting self-monitored data, and automated feedback or an education-only Internet-delivered eating and activity control group (IDEA; n = 77). Outcome measures were weight loss after 3 months (primary outcome) and 6months and changes in weight-control behaviors (secondary outcomes). RESULTS In intent-to-treat analyses with baseline weight carried forward for missing data, IBI produced significantly larger mean (SD) weight losses than IDEA at 3 months (5.5 kg [4.4] vs. 1.3 kg [2.1]) and 6 months (5.4 kg [5.6] vs. 1.3 kg [4.1]) (P < 0.001). Participants in IBI compared with IDEA were also more likely to achieve a clinically significant weight loss of 5%of initial bodyweight at 3months (53.3 vs. 9.1%) and 6 months (48.1 vs. 15.6%) (P < 0.001) and reported more frequent use of weight control--related strategies. CONCLUSIONS Physician referral to an Internet-based behavioral weight-loss intervention produced clinically significant weight loss for over half of the patients studied. Further research is needed to determine the effectiveness of implementing this intervention more broadly within diverse health care settings.


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