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09-01-2011 | Cardiometabolic | Article

Computer program promotes weight-loss in patients with the metabolic syndrome


Free abstract

MedWire News: A computer-based support program designed to help clinicians provide patients with the metabolic syndrome with healthy lifestyle counseling can lead to increased weight loss over a 12-month period, say US researchers.

Results of the study show that participants using the computer program lost more weight, increased their level of physical activity, and reduced their weekly calorific intake compared with other participants.

"Time constrains and a lack of training often make it difficult for physicians to provide effective counseling," explain James Christian (Primary Health Care Centre LP, Pueblo, Colorado) and colleagues.

"This brief motivational approach is well suited to the daily practice of a busy primary care clinic, where improved patient adherence to treatment recommendations is a priority."

The researchers conducted a 12 month controlled trial involving 279 participants (aged 18-75 years) who had a body mass index ≥25 kg/m2 and at least two other components of the metabolic syndrome.

A computer-based health assessment led individuals in the intervention group (n=140) to set tailored self-management goals for weight loss, nutrition, and physical activity. These goals were then reviewed and reinforced by physicians at clinic visits at baseline and after 6 months.

In contrast, individuals in the control group (n=139) had no additional interventional help regarding their specific goals for weight loss or physical activity, other than that received during usual care.

After 12 months, 26.3% of the intervention group sustained a weight loss of ≥5% of total body weight, with a mean weight loss of 1.5 kg. This compared to an average weight gain of 0.15 kg among controls, with just 8.5% sustaining a weight loss of ≥5% of total body weight.

The researchers say that a loss of more than 5% of total body weight was associated with improvements in cardiovascular risk factors, including reductions in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides, and an increase in fasting glucose levels.

In addition, individuals in the intervention group had a greater mean increase in their physical activity levels (613 vs 123 metabolic equivalent unit-minutes/week) and a greater mean reduction in their energy intake (14.9% [1495 kcal/week] vs 6.6% [843 kcal/week]) compared with controls.

Writing in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, the team concludes: "As the intervention was simple and the burden on clinicians was low, it is conceivable that the core components of this simple intervention process can be adopted in other clinical settings or for other 'at risk' groups."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Nikki Withers