When you’re coaching clients for fat loss, face-to-face interaction isn’t mandatory. According to research published in The New England Journal of Medicine (doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1108660), telephone interventions are as effective as in-person meetings. The 24-month study included 415 obese individuals with a mean age of 54 years. “One intervention provided patients with weight loss support remotely—through the telephone, a study-specific website, and e-mail,” the study authors explained. “The other intervention provided in-person support during group and individual sessions (from employees at Johns Hopkins University), along with the three remote means of support.” The website included learning modules; tools for monitoring weight loss, exercise levels and calorie intake; and feedback on behaviors. Participants received monthly emails that included progress reports. Those who failed to log on to the study website for longer than 7 days received encouragement emails.
After 2 years, control group participants had lost an average of less than 2 pounds. Subjects in both of the other groups had lost an average of 10 pounds. “The percentage of participants who lost 5% or more of their initial weight was 18.8% in the control group, 38.2% in the group receiving remote support only, and 41.4% in the group receiving in-person support,” the researchers explained.
The weight loss difference between the two intervention groups was not statistically significant.