Phone Helps Dieters Keep Pounds at Bay
Telephone Counseling, In-Person Support Both Effective in Helping Women Avoid Regaining Weight
WebMD News Archive
Nov. 24, 2008 -- A little support goes a long way. A new study shows that
telephone counseling is as effective as in-person sessions in helping obese women keep pounds off and
maintain a healthy lifestyle.
The research team wanted to look at rural women, who often have fewer
options and support and are usually farther away from medical and weight loss treatment centers
than urban residents.
In background information presented with the findings, the researchers write
that rural areas have higher obesity rates, more of a sedentary lifestyle, and
higher rates of the chronic diseases that go hand-in-hand with obesity.
Researchers, led by Michael Perri, PhD, with the University of Florida in
Gainesville got together 234 women from rural counties in northern Florida.
The women were 50 to 75 years old and obese, with an average weight of 212.5 pounds; they
did not have uncontrollable hypertension, diabetes, or cardiovascular
The group participated in a standard six-month lifestyle modification
program that required eating less, exercising more, and a focus on
goal setting and daily food monitoring. The women lost about 22 pounds on
For one year of follow-up, the women were divided into three groups.
One group received 15- to 20-minute telephone sessions biweekly from a
Another group got an hour in-person session every two weeks.
The third group received biweekly newsletters in the mail that provided diet
and weight loss tips.
Researchers found that the two groups that got telephone counseling and
face-to-face sessions regained less weight (2.6 pounds) than did the group that
only got the newsletters (8.15 pounds).
And, telephone counseling was less expensive than the in-person
The researchers write that past studies in urban settings show that
participants in weight loss and behavioral modification programs often wind up
regaining a third to half of the weight lost in the year after the
Regaining weight can erode any gained health benefits.
The findings appear in the Nov. 24 issue of the Archives of Internal