Research: Web-based expert coaching may assist with weight loss

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Expert coaching over the web can assist with significant weight loss.  


Expert coaching for weight loss is expensive but has been shown to help with weight loss in prior research.  Coaching is the key part that both motivates and increases engagement.  Providing coaches as part of a weight management program is a common practice in most weight programs, but it is cost and time prohibitive for many.  Coach and participant interaction is the key thing that promotes this engagement, but there is limited research to show that expert coaching over the internet can promote the same benefits.  

A recent study from 2018 looked at expert web coaching and other potential ties to success[1].  The purpose of this study was to analyze the coach and participant interaction in a 6-month weight loss intervention that includes personalized weight management and web-based disease prevention solution.  The study specifically examined the association between different methods of coach-participant interaction and weight loss and tried to understand the level of coaching impact on weight loss outcome.

The study was a retrospective analysis that was performed using 1432 participants enrolled from 2011 to 2016 in the Retrofit weight loss program.  Participants were males and females aged 18 years or older with a baseline body mass index of at least 25.   A detailed analysis of different coach-participant interaction was performed using both intent-to-treat and completer populations. The researchers looked at types of coach-participant interactions involving expert coaching sessions, live weekly expert-led web-based classes, and electronic messaging and feedback.  

The researchers found that participants in the weight loss program lost a mean of 5.14% of their baseline weight.  The analysis identified the following top three measures as significant predictors of weight loss at six months were expert coaching session attendance, live weekly Web-based class attendance, and food log feedback days per week.  Attending 80% of expert coaching sessions, attending 60% of live web-based classes, and receiving a minimum of 1 food log feedback day per week were associated with clinically significant weight loss.

The bottom line:  Participation in the one-on-one expert coaching sessions, live weekly expert-led web-based classes, and the number of food log feedback days per week from expert coach were significant predictors of weight loss in a 6-month intervention.  This study indicates that a web bases expert coaching works and may be a way to reach more of those that need to lose weight and decrease cost.  This research indicates a need for further research to explore coaching best practices.


S. L. Painter et al., “Expert Coaching in Weight Loss: Retrospective Analysis,” J Med Internet Res, vol. 20, no. 3, p. e92, Mar. 2018 [Online]. Available: 10.2196/jmir.9738″ target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>
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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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