To Lose Weight, Less Expensive Approaches Can Work

By Mina Kim, KQED

(Erica Feliciano/Flickr)

(Erica Feliciano/Flickr)

Researchers at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute and Stanford University School of Medicine say they have found a cheaper and more practical way to help people lose weight. They’re hoping the findings will help reduce the incidence of Type 2 diabetes.

Researchers have known for a while, that one-on-one coaching is an effective way to help people lose weight and lower their risk for Type 2 diabetes. But that method can be hard to implement in a doctor’s office said Stanford Professor of Medicine Randall Stafford, a researcher who worked on the study.

“Lack of time of the doctor, the difficulties in hiring the appropriate staff,” Stafford said. “And then the fact that the type of services are quite expensive.”

Stafford and others found two, less intensive programs — group coaching or take-home DVDs — led to an average 10 to 15 pounds of weight-loss over a 15-month period. Stafford said that’s enough to have a health impact.

“As little as 5 percent loss of body weight can have some major effects in terms of some of the metabolic consequences of obesity,” Stafford said. “Things like hypertension, cholesterol and even diabetes.”

Stafford said the approaches could extend the reach and lower the cost of lifestyle intervention programs.

There is one caveat. Most of the study volunteers were whites and Asian Americans who were from a single clinic in Silicon Valley. Stafford said he plans to repeat the study with a low-income, Latino population in Santa Cruz.

The study was published Monday, in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

This post has been updated to include Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute as one of the institutions involved in the study.

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