how effective is cyberdieting?

Jul 01, 2004

Food for Thought

In a new cybertrend, more and more internet users are turning to weight loss websites to shed unwanted pounds. One study found that people enrolled in a structured online dieting program lost three times more weight than those who only occasionally surfed the Net for diet information. However, most experts agree that more research is needed to test the success rates of diet websites versus traditional counseling programs.

Now, a study suggests that the Internet is just as effective as traditional offline programs for helping dieters maintain long-term weight loss. The study tracked 255 overweight and obese adults who lost weight working with a counselor and were then randomly assigned to an 18-month maintenance program via the Internet, with regular in-person counseling or with limited face-to-face contact. The article, which appeared in the February issue of Obesity Research, stated that those in the Internet group lost just as much weight during the maintenance phase as those who met regularly with a dietitian.

“The Internet appears to be a viable medium for promoting long-term weight maintenance,” concluded the authors of the study, which was conducted at the University of Vermont in Burlington. Many traditional diet programs, like Weight Watchers International, now offer counseling over the Internet.

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