Web support is a useful option to assist with weight loss.
Obesity is a massive epidemic worldwide, but it is notably worse in the United States. The cost of therapy for treatment is often too high and too ineffective to justify funding by some insurance companies. If researchers could find an effective mechanism for the treatment that could reach more and be more cost-effective, it could warrant funding insurance and reach more people.
An ongoing clinical trial looks to evaluate the internet as a means to reach more and lower cost. Web telematic support is a novel approach to accomplish this goal. The researchers used an online structured program to treat obesity in diabetes with the purpose of prevention. Participants were recruited from two tertiary-care hospitals and randomized to receive either a telematic intervention supported by a web platform or a standard face-to-face non-telematic intervention.
All subjects received treatment and a 1-year follow-up evaluation. Both interventions consist of tailored Mediterranean dietary and exercise prescriptions that fit general WHO diet and exercise recommendations for adults. At six months, both groups have received seven contacts, but the telematics group had three exclusively web-based connections. One hundred eighty-three participants were recruited. The participants had a mean body mass index of nearly 35.
The researchers found that weight changes were significant (over 5%) at months 3 and six compared to baseline, but not statistically significant between the two groups. Mean group differences showed that the web-based group lost 1.61 kg more than the non-web-based group. There was a 25% drop out rate for both groups.
The bottom line: Both groups resulted in a significant weight loss of 5%, but neither was more effective than the other. The means that this initial research proved that both could work and the web-based should be an effective mechanism to reach more that need assistance. More research is required before a final determination can be made, but these results are promising.