Computerized Weight Loss

by Diane Lofshult on Jan 01, 2007

Several studies have shown that e-mail counseling can improve weight loss attempts among users of self-directed Internet diet programs. Some people think that computer-tailored feedback might even replace one-on-one human counseling in the future.

To test this theory, researchers divided 192 adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 32.7 (plus or minus 3.5) into three study groups. One group got no counseling at all; a second received computer-automated feedback; and a third got counseling from a human via e-mail. All participants received one weight-loss group session, along with coupons for meal replacements and access to an interactive website.

After 3 months, both the computer-automated feedback group and the group counseled by a human via e-mail had lost significantly more weight than the group that received no counseling at all. But after 6 months, those counseled by a human clearly had the edge: they had lost significantly more weight than those who got computer- automated feedback and those who had no counseling.

The bottom line: While computers are a great tool for counseling clients, there is no substitution for human contact when it comes to helping clients keep the weight off.

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About the Author

Diane Lofshult

Diane Lofshult IDEA Author/Presenter

Diane Lofshult is an award-winning freelance author who specializes in nutrition and weight management topics. She is the founder of In Other Words, an editorial consulting firm based in Solana Beach, California. Reach her at lofshult@roadrunner.com.