What Prompts Successful LIFESTYLE CHANGES for Weight Loss?


In the United States one third of adults are Obese (BMI >30). OBESITY brings a burden of increased medical problems and risk of premature death. Excess body mass significantly decreases energy, activity and sense of well being, not to mention body image. Many resources, public and private are being devoted to combating this epidemic. MICHELLE OBAMA has made anti-obesity her signature issue in the “Let’s Move” campaign.

The Nov 24, 2011 NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL of MEDICINE published a randomized controlled study in 415 obese people to compare two different approaches to supporting WEIGHT LOSS. All patients were followed by their doctors for a two year period. One group of subjects had weight loss coaches that provided in-person support with both group and individual sessions. A second group had its counseling provided remotely by e-mail, phone or web site. The third group was entirely self directed without supplemental advise or support.  

The self directed (non-supported) control group had a mean weight loss of .8 kg, not much change at two years. The two groups that received support both were able to maintain a 5% weight reduction. This modest weight loss is a good start on decreasing cardiovascular and diabetic risk even if it is still a far distance from being at ideal body weight. The group with face-to face coaching did slightly better than those who received their support on line, but support was critical.

The take home lesson is that lifestyle changes are hard to maintain especially when attempted all by yourself.  Education and encouragement make a difference in being able to sustain change in habits. You may lack both time and money for one on one coaching, but taking advantage of on line support systems may be a very good method to reinforce behavioral modifications. Most health clubs offer a supervised program to track diet and exercise. There are multiple web sites for monitoring calorie intake and exercise to track progress in those key behaviors. Here are a few you might find helpful: – Weight Watcher’s Support Network – Weight-Control Information Network – Web site with resources for surgical weight loss – Successful group based on the 12 Steps model

Don’t forget to keep moving!

Category: Nutrition, Personal Fitness, Weight loss

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