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Virtual conferencing effective weight management intervention

Published: 3:00 pm CDT, March 20, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO — A weight management intervention delivered through video conferencing helped participants lose weight, according to a study presented on Thursday at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology & Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity & Metabolism Scientific Sessions 2014.

Forty-seven obese men (21-60 years-old) participated in a 12-week group weight management intervention led by a healthcare provider. They were assigned to start the intervention immediately or three months later.

“This is a first attempt to deliver group-based healthcare services remotely, in a face-to-face virtual environment,” said Kristen M.J. Azar, R.N., M.S.N./M.P.H., one of the study’s authors and assistant nurse researcher at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation in Palo Alto, Calif. “In each intervention, eight participants attended meetings from their homes or offices, or any location of their choosing. Participants even joined the weekly meetings from different states in the United States and different countries while on business trips and vacation.”

The researchers found:

  • Men in the intervention group lost an average 4.3 percent of their body weight after three months, versus an average 0.7 percent in the comparison group.
  • Those in the intervention group lost an average nine pounds more than those in the comparison group.
  • Participants in the intervention group lost nearly one pound for every session attended.
  • Participants in the intervention group attended an average 75 percent of the 12 weekly sessions.

More studies are needed to explore cost-effectiveness, what populations may be best suited and how to best deliver the intervention in primary care settings, Azar said.

The Verizon Foundation funded the study.

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