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A new study has found that people who use online programs in an attempt to lose weight are marginally more successful than those who do not.
The research, which was printed in the International Journal of Obesity, was undertaken at the University of Tsukuba Institute of Clinical Medicine in Japan, involved analysing the results from 23 studies comparing programs of weight control that did or did not include an element of online interaction.
Those programs that did involve the Internet used it in a variety of different ways, including providing individual instructions and communication, counselling and recording food intake. The degree to which each weight loss program used the Internet differed across the studies involved in the research.
The results of the study showed that when weight loss programs involved the Internet, the person attempting to lose weight lost, on average, a pound and a half more than someone whose weight loss program did not use the Internet. However, this was only when the program also involved an element of in person counselling. The results also showed that programs that did not contain this form of counselling lead to participants actually gaining three pounds more than people who did not use a web-based scheme.
The authors of the study concluded from these results that “an in-person contact approach is superior to a technology-based approach”, and that the latter programs need “to include the component of a face-to-face program for participants to achieve weight loss.”