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December 3, 2008

A Phone Keeps the Lbs. Off

A phone call from a diet counselor helps dieters keep the weight off, a new study has found.
When it comes to losing weight, the actual weight loss is only half the battle. Keeping the pounds from coming back can be even harder. A recent Florida study has shown that follow-up or counseling sessions appear to be more effective in maintaining weight loss than weight loss education alone is. The study also showed that telephone counseling appears to be just as effective as face-to-face counseling.

Not only does phone counseling eliminate any distance related barriers, it's also less time consuming and less expensive ...

Telephone counseling is especially helpful to people in rural areas. As the study points out, not only do rural counties in the United States have higher rates of obesity than non-rural areas, rural residents are also often located far from health care centers, making setting up and attending face-to-face counseling sessions difficult for rural residents and telephone counseling appealing. Not only does phone counseling eliminate any distance related barriers, it's also less time consuming and less expensive, averaging $192 vs. $397 for face-to-face counseling.

The study participants lost an average of 22 pounds during a six month weight loss program. The participants whose aftercare consisted solely of receiving a bi-weekly newsletter regained an average of 8.2 pounds over the next year. Those who received either telephone or face-to-face counseling gained back only 2.6 pounds. Apparently, willpower and desire are not always enough to keep those pounds from coming back. Whether it's the human element in counseling or some other factor that's responsible, counseling clearly helps.

The study was a randomized trial of 234 obese women, aged 50 to 75. All lived in medically underserved, rural communities in northern Florida. It was headed by Dr. Michael G. Perri, a professor and interim dean of the University of Florida's College of Public Health and Health Professions. The results were published in the November 24, 2008 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.
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