Given that 75 percent of our medical problems are the result of lifestyle choices, new research provides a welcome solution as group telephone sessions were found to be an effective intervention to help obese patients lose weight.
Researchers provided lifestyle intervention over the telephone to a group of obese patients with metabolic syndrome — often a precursor to diabetes and cardiac conditions.
Metabolic syndrome affects a third of U.S. adults and is associated with increased morbidity and premature death, from cardiovascular disease in particular. People with metabolic syndrome suffer from central obesity, high blood fats, high blood pressure and abnormal blood sugar levels.
Lifestyle changes that lead to weight loss have been proven to prevent or slow the development of diabetes.
A new health policy encouraging population health encourages prevention that begins in primary care provider practices, which are ideal settings for weight loss interventions. In addition, telephone interventions are attractive as they can reach a large number of patients, at a time and in a place that best suits them.
Drs. Paula Trief and Ruth Weinstock from SUNY Upstate Medical University compared the effectiveness of two primary care provider telephone adaptations.
A total of 257 obese patients with metabolic syndrome, but not diabetes, were recruited from five practices in New York.
They were randomly assigned to one of two groups — they received either individual calls or participated in conference calls with up to eight patients per call, for a period of two years. The authors measured changes in weight after 6, 12 and 24 months of calls.
As reported online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, researchers found that participants in both groups lost weight after one and two years.
The individual and conference call versions of the lifestyle intervention were equally effective after a year; however, after two years, conference call participants had lost more weight and continued to lose weight compared to those receiving individual calls who began to regain.
The conference call educators were trained to promote discussion among the group and group members shared weight loss strategies within a supportive environment.
The authors conclude that telephone delivery of an intensive lifestyle program by primary care provider staff, was effective in achieving weight loss at one and two years, in obese people with metabolic syndrome.
Researchers believe the study is important because individuals at high risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease were able to lose weight and reduce their risk of health problems.