Internet-based support system found to be effective in improving weight loss


In a randomized long-term lifestyle change trial, an Internet-based health behavior change support system (HBCSS) was effective in improving weight loss and reduction in waist circumference for up to 2 years. The findings are published in the Journal of Internal Medicine.

The 532-participant trial included 6 arms: cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)-based group counseling, self-help guidance-based group counseling, and control, each with and without HCBSS. Interventions using the HBCSS had significantly higher success rates at losing weight and maintaining weight loss, regardless of the type of group counseling, compared with counseling alone. In addition, the success rate was also high in participants in the control group who received HBCSS.

CBT-based counseling with HBCSS produced the largest weight reduction without any significant weight gain during follow-up. The average weight change in this group was 4.1% at 12 months and 3.4% at 24 months. HBCSS even without any group counseling reduced the average weight by 1.6% at 24 months.

“Modifiable tools based on scientific evidence are needed for personalized treatment of obesity. HBCSS combined with cognitive behavioral group therapy or as a stand-alone treatment provides us with such a modifiable method for personalized medicine,” said co-lead author Dr. Tuire Salonurmi, of University of Oulu and Oulu University Hospital, in Finland.

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