Online behavioural counselling tool can be effective at helping people lose weight, revealed a survey. Using the Positive Online Weight Reduction (POWeR)+ online programme with very brief support from practice staff, participants lost over one kg more averaged over 12 months and were more likely to maintain clinically important weight loss by 12 months.
POWeR+ — an online behavioural intervention — is supported by brief contacts from a practice nurse. It teaches participants self-regulation and cognitive behavioural techniques to provide them with long-term, sustainable ways of forming healthy eating and exercise habits.
“Many people receiving the POWeR+ intervention were able to sustain weight loss over one year but also felt more enabled in managing their weight going forward, and fewer resorted to other activities such as commercial slimming programmes to lose weight,” said Paul Little, Professor at University of Southampton in the study published in the journal The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology.
For the study, the researchers involved 818 people with a body mass index (BMI) over 30 who took part in 24 web-based sessions over six months. They were randomly allocated to one of three groups – first, control – an existing online intervention that encourages healthier options. Second, POWeR+ with face-to-face support from a nurse, and third POWeR+ with remote very brief support from a nurse (on average three email contacts and one phone contact).
All patients were asked to come for appointments for weighing at six and also 12 months to see if weight loss was maintained. They found that while people in all groups lost weight, the two groups receiving the POWeR+ intervention lost more.
The control group lost an average of three kg during 12 months and 21 per cent of people were able to maintain a clinically important amount of weight loss by 12 months. The POWeR+ group with face-to-face support lost one and half kg more averaged over 12 months and 29 per cent of people had maintained important weight loss by 12 months.
The POWeR+ group with remote support lost 1.3kg more averaged over 12 months with 32 per cent able to maintain clinically important weight loss by 12 months.
Large patient numbers, limited staff training and time pressures mean that delivering face-to-face behavioural interventions in practice can be resource intensive, the survey suggested.