Search     |     Share     |     Blog     |     My Food Diary     |     Login
Healthy eating and exercise for life

Research with Online Diet Programs

Research Shows that Online Dieting Programs Can Be Extremely Effective

Many Internet "surfers" are finding the answers to their dieting questions on the Internet and are increasingly subscribing to online dieting services. Research shows that Web-based programs and support can help people lose weight. Read on to learn more about this exciting research.

Researchers, led by Deborah Tate of Brown Medical School, divided overweight subjects into two groups (either an Internet education group or an Internet behavior therapy group) for a period of six months. All participants received an in person group weight loss session and access to a Web site with resources about . The Internet behavior therapy group also received feedback from therapists via email, participated in online bulletin boards, submitted food diaries, tracked their exercise, etc. The Internet behavior therapy group lost more weight (a total of nine pounds by the end of the six months) as opposed to the 3.5 pounds lost by the Internet education group. The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

The second study, also led by Tate and published in JAMA, evaluated 92 overweight men and women with an average age of 48 and a () of 33. (A of 30 and over is considered obese.) Participants were also at risk of diabetes and were assigned to one of two groups – either a basic Internet program or an Internet program coupled with email counseling. The group assigned to the basic Internet program received a tutorial on weight loss, a new tip and a link each week of various Internet resources. The participants in the email-counseling group also received the tutorial and were assigned a weight loss counselor. Participants in this group reported their calorie and fat intake, exercise and were able to send any questions or comments to the therapist through a Web based diary. They also were asked to submit their weight on a weekly basis.

Researchers found that after a 12-month period, those in the Internet plus behavioral e-counseling program lost an average of 10 pounds (a five percent loss of their initial body weight, which scientists have found can have dramatic effect on a person’s overall health – including their risk of developing diseases such as Type 2 diabetes). Researchers also found that those who spent more time on the Web lost more weight.

Another study published in Obesity Research and led by Jean Harvey-Berino found that online dieting was as effective as in-person counseling in promoting long-term weight maintenance. After losing weight through a six-month program, participants were assigned to one of three groups, either frequent in-person support (F-IPS), minimal in-person support (M-IPS) or Internet support (IS). The researchers found that those in the Internet support group were able to sustain a comparable weight loss with those who received in-person support.

Baylor College of Medicine
Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine have also found that patients who used the Internet to track their weight and received feedback from dietitians lost an average of 11 pounds in a six week period. Participants were able to reduce LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and blood glucose levels as well.