(HealthDay)—Although many people can lose weight, few maintain the loss. Could individual telephone support be the key to keeping extra pounds at bay?
New research suggests that telehealth counseling after weight loss may be just the support that people in rural areas need to maintain their weight loss long-term. At the 12-month point in the study, people who had individual telephone counseling had maintained an average of 100% of their weight loss.
Other studies have found that it is not uncommon for dieters to regain up to half the weight they lost within a year.
“We tend to think of problems like overweight and obesity as acute care problems—people think you treat it and it’s done. But for continued success, you have to work on it always, and it’s hard to do this on your own,” said the study’s senior author, Michael Perri. “You really do need support and someone who is on your side, but also someone who can challenge you.”
But distances can be a real barrier to care for people who live in rural areas, said Perri, dean of the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions, in Gainesville.
The COVID-19 pandemic has helped remove that barrier through increased access to telehealth—care delivered remotely by telephone or internet.
So researchers designed their study using telehealth—either individually or by group—to see if consistent remote counseling made a difference in weight maintenance.
The study started with a face-to-face weight loss program including more than 500 adults from 14 counties in Florida. Their average weight loss was just over 18 pounds. The participants met at U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) cooperative extension offices.
“The USDA cooperative extension service has offices in almost every county in the U.S.: They were originally set up to help farmers, but their