Asking patients to track weight loss online is more effective than offering them pamphlets on weight loss, but neither method is as effective as in-person interventions, according to a report published in the Cochrane Review, MedPage Today reports.
Columbia University Medical Center researchers reviewed 18 studies that compared computer-based interventions to traditional weight-loss and weight-maintenance programs. Altogether, the studies involved more than 4,100 participants.
The online programs included goal setting and logs for caloric intake and exercise.
Participants receiving minimal weight loss intervention received some initial advice and brochures on weight loss, and the in-person intervention usually included a weekly conversation and weigh-in.
The review found that, after six months:
- Participants using the online programs lost more weight than those using the minimal interventions; and
- Participants using in-person interventions lost more weight than those using the online programs.
According to the review, even participants who attended in-person meetings infrequently lost more weight than online users.
The researchers noted that the review is limited because it did not calculate the long-term impact of online programs. They also noted that some providers "have few options to offer their patients, so programs of less impact are still potentially important to consider as treatment options" (Fiore, MedPage Today, 8/16).