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Scientists studying ways to help community college employees lose weight and keep it off

CHAPEL HILL With more than 60 percent of U.S. adults overweight or obese and the resulting costs to employers rising each year, weight-loss programs adaptable to the workplace are needed, experts say. To be effective, such programs must be designed to maintain privacy, employee interest and commitment to long-term success.

But which are most effective? Which help employees maintain weight loss past the first six months? And what are the costs and health benefits of different types of weight-loss programs?

Since evidence is limited and few worksite weight-loss efforts have been rigorously tested, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have begun trying to generate useful answers.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has awarded them $1.2 million to evaluate the effects of three such programs on employees' weight, physical activity and diet. They will investigate what happens with employees at community colleges across the state who will participate in efforts relying on environmental change, Web-based weight loss and financial incentives.

The three-year study also will investigate how altering work environments might make them more conducive to good health and examine the effects such programs have on social and physical environments at all participating campuses.

Dr. Laura Linnan, associate professor of health behavior and health education at the UNC School of Public Health, is principal investigator of the "WAY to Health" study. Dr. Deborah Tate, assistant professor of nutrition and of health behavior and health education, and Dr. Shrikant I. Bangdiwala, professor of biostatistics, are co-investigators on the project, along with Dr. Eric Finkelstein, a Research Triangle Institute economist.

The N.C. WAY to Health study will take place in collaboration with the N.C. Community College System, Research Triangle Institute, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, N.C. Pre
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Contact: David Williamson
rdtokids@email.unc.edu
919-962-8596
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
20-Jul-2005


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