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E-mail contact as an effective strategy in the maintenance of weight loss in adults

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Abstract Background: 

Professional face-to-face contact is known to be beneficial in effective weight management, but costly, in supporting weight maintenance. Within the UK, studies have examined using the Internet to achieve weight loss; however, there is a need to evaluate the use of dietetic intervention via e-mail to support the maintenance of weight loss in a National Health Service (NHS) setting. The present study aimed to assess the effects of dietetic support through e-mail on weight loss maintenance on individuals who were successful in weight loss. Methods: 

Fifty-five patients, who had lost ≥5% body weight, were assigned to either an intervention group (weekly e-mail messages and monthly personal e-mail message with reporting of weight, n = 28) or a control group (n = 27). The level of weight maintenance, plus dietary changes and the ability to maintain a level of activity, were recorded after 6 months. Results: 

At 6 months, the e-mail group maintained an average weight loss of 10%, which was significantly (P = 0.05) greater than the mean percentage weight loss maintained by the control group (7.3%). The control group regained weight at a statistically significant greater velocity (P = 0.02) than the intervention group. There were correlations between the amount of fruits and vegetables (P = 0.07) eaten and exercise episodes (P = 0.01) against weight change in maintenance. Conclusions: 

The present study showed that dietetic support using e-mail can be used effectively in reducing weight gain velocity and assisting in the maintenance of weight loss. It is a system that can be used in the UK NHS to reach many people.

Keywords: controlled trial; dietitian; e-mail contact; maintenance; weight loss

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Portsmouth Hospitals, Portsmouth, UK 2: Faculty of Health & Medical Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, UK 3: Department of Nutrition & Dietetics, Kings College, London, UK

Publication date: 2011-02-01

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