Weight loss on the web

Kaiser Permanente released a study recently showing that people who belong to an online support group to help with their weight loss efforts are more successful than those who did not make use of this online support.  Leslie Beck’s article says that the more people logged on to the site used for the study, the more weight they kept off.  The site also saw 65% of the study participants returning after 28 months.

The research shows that sites which require regular input from users including updating of weight, input of food logs, and/or recording exercise increase user success.

So what does this say?  Well, the obvious conclusion is that any type of extra support helps people be more successful when trying to do something that challenges them.  What surprises some people is that the internet seems as helpful or more so than in-person support for some people.  Internet support systems are easier for many people to take part in, require no travel, are often free, and provide anonymity for those who might be uncomfortable stepping on a scale in front of strangers.

When it comes to weight loss, sometimes it’s all about support.  Sometimes you have a day/week/month where doing it for yourself or your kids or your wedding is just not enough.  Having accountability to others is crucial for long term success, and many of these websites encourage a sense of community that helps people to feel accountable to their sitemates.  Online forums, galleries, badges or trophies to mark successes, journals for users to express concerns or celebrate triumphs… all of these things help people to feel like they aren’t alone in their struggle.

If you’re looking for some helpful sites to begin/continue your weight loss efforts, here are a few I’ve tried and liked:

  1. iChange – free, dietitian supported.  Offers recipes, forums, articles, challenges, and more.
  2. SparkPeople – free, personalized.  Offers recipes, forums, articles, challenges, and more.
  3. Bookieboo – free.  A large membership, articles, product reviews, forums, regular feedback.
  4. The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans – free.  A large membership, articles, product reviews, forums, regular feedback, lots of challenges to participate in.
  5. Specific diet support websites like Weight Watchers.  These are usually not free, but are useful if you’re following a particular diet plan and looking for tools specific to your needs.

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2 Responses to “Weight loss on the web”
  1. Erin says:

    I have to say that I’m not really surprised that online support groups work. It’s a semi-anonymous way to have support and still be accountable, and I imagine that the people who use those tools *are* very successful.

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