The internet is becoming a bigger part of our daily lives because of how convenient it is to use and the many things it can be used for. Using the internet for health reasons is becoming more common and a lot of people use it to lose weight and stay fit.
Since I offer an internet weight loss program I of course would be of the opinion that such programs are extremely effective but as always I like to make my articles objective. Luckily there have actually been a lot of studies that have looked into the effectiveness of using the web for weight loss purposes.
Getting Support from Real People
A study done at the University of Vermont compared two different internet weight loss websites.
- One website featured a therapist who gave instruction on how to go about losing weight while the other was a typical self-help weight loss website.
- This study involved 88 test subjects who were at least 18 years of age and were either overweight or obese.
- These test subjects used their respective weight loss website for 12 months and their progress was measured by the 6th month and by the 12th month.
What they found was that people who used the website that offered the therapist lost roughly twice as much weight as participants who used the self-help website after 6 months and also lost significantly more weight after 12 months. The results of this study suggest that weight loss websites that offer someone who actively gives weight loss advice are more effective than self-help weight loss websites.
Better than Other Weight Loss Approaches
There was another study done by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases that compared how well an internet weight loss program could help 446 overweight men and women in the military lose weight compared to their typical weight loss intervention.
All of the test subjects stuck with their respective weight loss program for 6 months and what the researchers found was that the people who followed the internet weight loss program lost weight and lowered their body fat percentage and waist size. The people who followed the typical weight loss intervention actually gained some weight. This study helps validate the idea that internet based weight loss programs are better than some other more conventional programs.
Interactive vs Non-Interactive Sites
I have come across a few studies that found that using the internet for health purposes is better than other approaches because it helps people change their behavior more. One such study was done at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center. This study tested how well an interactive website that focused on teaching people to be healthier could help with weight loss compared to a health website that wasn’t interactive. The study involved 57 overweight 13 year old girls and 40 parents who were also overweight.
- After 6 months, as you probably guessed, the researchers found that the interactive health website was more effective than the website that wasn’t interactive.
- The teenagers lost over twice as much body fat when using the interactive website after the first 6 months.
- Their parents lost over 6 times as much body weight in that time.
This study strongly suggests that the internet can be used to change people’s behavior in a way that leads to weight loss especially if the website is interactive and isn’t a plain information website.
People Stick with Internet Programs
When it comes to things like at home gym equipment and workout DVDs we all know that many people don’t continue to use them for a long period of time but this may not be the case so much with online weight loss programs. A study done in Sharnbrook in England was designed to see how well people would stick with an online weight loss program.
This study lasted for 12 weeks and involved 222 people. Researchers were able to track how many times people came to the website and they were even able to track how much exercise they got.
They found that after 12 weeks an incredible 78% of people stuck with the program and 69% stuck with the program for even longer than that. On average the participants got 173 minutes of exercise per week. This study suggests that there is a high likelihood that people will stick with an online weight loss approach.
The internet is good for many things and it would appear that aiding in weight loss is one of them.