Counseling helps obese lose weight

Nov. 16, 2011 at 12:09 AM
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BALTIMORE, Nov. 15 (UPI) -- About 40 percent of obese patients enrolled in two counselor-enhanced weight-loss programs lost at least 5 percent of their body weight, U.S. researchers found.

Dr. Lawrence J. Appel of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Bloomberg School of Public Health and colleagues recruited 415 obese people -- predominantly middle-age women -- with an average body mass index of 36.6 and an average weight of 229 pounds.

They were randomly split into three groups: The control group received information about weight loss but did not receive counseling; another group received counseling over the phone with a coach; and a third group was offered in-person and phone counseling.

Those in the control group lost an average of less than 2 pounds over the course of two years. But those in the two groups that had telephone counseling sessions or in-person coaching lost more than five times that amount -- an average of 10 pounds over two years.

Appel said in-person programs are the standard, and such programs do lead to weight loss. But, the study leader said, the frequent, in-person counseling sessions, from a logistical perspective, are a disaster because patients start off strong then stop attending.

However, the researchers said they were surprised telephone contact with coaches worked just as well as in-person one-on-one and group sessions.

The findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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