A $3.5 million grant from the National Institute of Health will allow the University of Vermont’s Behavioral Weight Management Program to expand on a successful pilot study researching weight loss.
Researchers determined that an online format could achieve weight losses typically associated with more personalized health programs. Participants lost an average of twenty-one pounds over six months. “The exciting finding in this study is that we were able to replicate an in-person program online. This provides the opportunity to reach more people in need of a high-quality weight loss program,” said Beth Casey Gold, research and development, clinical coordinator for the study.
The pilot study recruited one hundred twenty participants age eighteen and older from the Burlington area through newspaper advertisements. The new grant will allow researchers to expand this study to encompass nearly five hundred participants from Vermont and Arkansas in order to replicate the results of the pilot study and determine whether these findings can be generalized on a mass scale.
The VTrim program is built around the simple principle of “eat less and move more;” participants monitor their eating and exercise behavior and build support networks in order to stay motivated. The follow-up study will repeat the protocol of the original.
For people who do not meet the eligibility requirements for participating in research, there is VTrim for the Community. Groups of eighteen attend weekly one-hour meetings over a period of six months, learning to modify their behavior and achieve calorie and exercise goals. An online version of the program will be launched this fall.
The obesity epidemic costs billions of dollars in decreased productivity and health care costs for a myriad of weight-related health problems, making it crucial to create inexpensive and effective weight-loss programs.
Clearly, the internet could be a valuable tool in the fight against obesity. “The internet has enormous potential to bring weight-loss success and lifestyle changes to people worldwide and in settings where traditional clinics cannot,” said Rachel Johnson, dean of UVM’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
For more information, contact Beth Casey Gold at [email protected]