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Keeping online record of weight may help keep pounds off

The study volunteers were given a specially designed website to log in. The site, which was designed to support weight maintenance, was available to the participants for 30 months.

A new study shows that using an interactive weight management website may help people lose weight and keep it off.

Once a person loses excess weight, the next great battle is keeping those pounds stay lost. The novel study suggests that using interactive websites, specially designed to promote weight-loss maintenance, might help.

Internet ways to keep lost weight from returning
In their study, researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, found that people who shed pounds and then consistently logged on to a specially designed internet site for weight maintenance maintained more weight loss than participants who logged in less frequently.

The National Institutes of Health-funded study was part of a 30-month, 4-center, randomized clinical trial called the 'Weight Loss Maintenance Trial' that included more than 1,600 people at four study sites across the United States.

The study volunteers were given a specially designed website to log in. The site, which was designed to support weight maintenance, was available to the participants for 30 months.

Study details
To reach their findings, a research team, headed by Kristine L. Funk, MS, RD, a researcher at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore., enrolled 348 people who were obese or overweight, as defined by body mass index (a BMI of 25 is considered overweight, over 30 is considered obese), and were taking medication for hypertension or hyperlipidemia.

The study volunteers were given a specially designed website to log in. The site, which was designed to support weight maintenance, was available to the participants for 30 months.

All the study subjects were asked to log in at least once a week, failing to which e-mail reminders and follow-up automated phone messages were sent to check in.

Findings
The study found that the participants who recorded their weight at least once a month for 26 of the 28 month part of the trial had lost an average of 8.6 kg, or 19 pounds, while those who logged in less consistently, at least once in 14 to 25 months, kept off an average of 5 pounds.

The study volunteers who logged into the website less than that kept off an average of only 3 pounds of their original weight loss.

"Participants who used the site most often and consistently throughout the study had better weight maintenance results than those who didn't use it as often. Consistency and accountability are key," said lead researcher Funk, according to Business Week.

At the end of the 28 month study, 65 percent of the 348 participants were still logging in to the website.

"Personal counseling is probably the Cadillac of weight loss and weight maintenance plans, but the availability of the Internet was a big part of the success here. The Web site was available 24/7," she noted.

Funded by a grant from the National Health, Lung and Blood Institute, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, the study has been published online in the 'Journal of Medical Internet Research.'