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Computer automated e-counseling improves weight loss

Providence, RI Behavioral counseling that is computer automated can enhance weight loss for individuals following a web-based weight loss program. This is the finding of a research study appearing in the August 14 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine conducted by researchers at The Miriam Hospital and University of North Carolina.

"As consumers continue to seek information on the web, it's essential that we identify and improve on the components of internet weight loss programs that make them successful," says Deborah Tate, PhD, lead author of the study and assistant professor in the School or Public Health at the University of North Carolina. "In past studies, we found that ongoing expert support delivered via email counseling was an effective tool in web-based weight loss programs. This study's goal was to determine if computer automated guidance could also be advantageous to individuals looking to lose weight through the web."

More than 65 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. Prior studies conducted by this research team have found that internet weight loss programs are more effective with the inclusion of email counseling from an expert. Automating such counseling has the potential to reach larger populations at a fraction of the cost of more intensive interventions.

"Compared to email counseling provided by a human, a computer pre-programmed with messages based on specific criteria is a highly efficient treatment approach that can be more widely disseminated among the population in need," says co-author Rena Wing, PhD, Director of the Weight Management and Diabetes Research Center at The Miriam Hospital and Brown Medical School.

One hundred ninety-two overweight or obese adults were randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups: a group receiving no email counseling, a group receiving computer automated counseling, or a group receiving counseling via email from a human. Participants in all groups wer
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Contact: Megan Martin (Miriam Hospital)
mmartin@lifespan.org
401-793-7484
Lifespan
14-Aug-2006


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