Self-directed intervention can help you lose weight

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A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association evaluated the effectiveness of a remote, self-directed behavioral lifestyle intervention for weight loss in adults with obesity.

Conducted by Katherine D. Hoerster, Ph.D., M.P.H., and her team from the VA Puget Sound Healthcare System, the research offers insights into alternative weight management strategies.

Study Design and Participants

The study involved 511 adults with a body mass index (BMI) between 30 and less than 45. Participants were divided into two groups: an intervention group and a control group.

The intervention group, consisting of 254 adults, received a 12-month program including Diabetes Prevention Program-based self-directed videos, handouts, and coaching messages accessible online or via mail. The control group of 257 adults continued with usual care.

Results: Weight Loss and Health Scores

The primary outcome measured was the change in body weight after 12 months. The findings were as follows:

  • The intervention group showed a decrease in unadjusted mean weight from 102.7 kg to 99.8 kg.
  • The control group experienced a smaller reduction, from 101.9 kg to 101.0 kg.
  • The adjusted between-group mean difference in weight loss was -1.93 kg, favoring the intervention group.

However, despite these differences, the weight loss achieved through the self-directed intervention was considered modest and not clinically significant.

Impact on Physical Health Scores

In addition to weight loss, the study also assessed changes in physical health using the 12-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-12) physical component scores (PCS). The results showed:

  • A slight decrease in SF-12 PCS scores in both groups, with the intervention group moving from 44.8 to 44.3 and the control group from 44.5 to 43.2.
  • The adjusted between-group mean difference in SF-12 PCS scores was 0.69, indicating no significant improvement compared to usual care.

Modest Effects on Weight and Physical Health

The study concluded that while the remote, self-directed intervention resulted in greater weight loss compared to usual care, the difference was not clinically important.

Additionally, there was no significant improvement in physical health scores as measured by the SF-12 PCS.

Implications for Weight Management Strategies

This research highlights the potential and limitations of remote, self-directed behavioral interventions in managing obesity. It suggests that while such programs can contribute to weight loss, the effects might be modest.

Further research and development of more effective remote interventions could enhance weight management strategies for individuals with obesity.

If you care about health, please read studies about six vitamins that help stop complications in diabetes, and vitamin D may benefit men with advanced cancer.

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The research findings can be found in JAMA.

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