Web-based weight management program is effective, new study shows

SAN ANTONIO (Jan. 17, 2008)—A newly published research study demonstrates that a weight-management program delivered over the Internet is effective for weight loss and preventing weight gain.

The report, made available Jan. 15 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, is by research collaborators from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, Wilford Hall Medical Center in San Antonio, Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center at Memphis, Eli Lilly and Co., and the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

“Most overweight Americans become overweight or obese as a result of gradual weight gain of 1-2 pounds per year over many years,” said study co-author Alan Peterson, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio and an investigator with the Health Science Center Department of Psychiatry’s Behavioral Wellness (Be Well) Center for Clinical Trials. “We now believe it is essential to evaluate these individuals’ progress regularly and intervene with an easy-to-implement program that reaches individuals at their computers.”

The research study evaluated two groups for weight loss and weight-gain prevention. The 446 research participants (222 overweight men and 224 overweight women) were randomly assigned to receive either six months of behavioral Internet treatment or usual care. Changes in body weight, body mass index, percent body fat and waist circumference were measured.

After six months, those who completed the Internet-based program lost 1.3 kilograms (2.86 pounds). Meanwhile, those assigned to usual care gained 0.6 kilograms (1.32 pounds). Behavioral Internet treatment recipients also showed statistically significant changes in body mass index and waist circumference.

“Internet-based weight management interventions result in small amounts of weight loss, prevent weight gain and have potential for widespread dissemination as a population health approach,” the authors concluded.

Citation: Weight Management Using the Internet: A Randomized Controlled Trial. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Volume 34, Issue 2, Pages 119-126 C. HUNTER.


The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is the leading research institution in South Texas and one of the major health sciences universities in the world. With an operating budget of $576 million, the Health Science Center is the chief catalyst for the $15.3 billion biosciences and health care sector in San Antonio’s economy. The Health Science Center has had an estimated $35 billion impact on the region since inception and has expanded to six campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. More than 22,000 graduates (physicians, dentists, nurses, scientists and allied health professionals) serve in their fields, including many in Texas. Health Science Center faculty are international leaders in cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, aging, stroke prevention, kidney disease, orthopaedics, research imaging, transplant surgery, psychiatry and clinical neurosciences, pain management, genetics, nursing, allied health, dentistry and many other fields.

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