Weight Management Using the Internet. A Randomized Controlled Trial

Christine M. Hunter, Alan L. Peterson, Lisa M. Alvarez, Walker C. Poston, Antoinette R. Brundige, C. Keith Haddock, David L. Van Brunt, John P. Foreyt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations


Background: Most weight-loss research targets obese individuals who desire large weight reductions. However, evaluation of weight-gain prevention in overweight individuals is also critical as most Americans become obese as a result of a gradual gain of 1-2 pounds per year over many years. Method: This study evaluated the efficacy of an Internet-based program for weight-loss and weight-gain prevention with a two-group, prospective, randomized controlled trial. A military medical research center with a population of 17,000 active-duty military personnel supplied 446 overweight individuals (222 men; 224 women) with a mean age of 34 years and a mean BMI of 29. Recruitment and study participation occurred 2003-2005 and data were analyzed in 2006. Participants were randomly assigned to receive the 6-month behavioral Internet treatment (BIT, n=227) or usual care (n=224). Change in body weight, BMI, percent body fat, and waist circumference; presented as group by time interactions, were measured. Results: After 6 months, completers who received BIT lost 1.3 kg while those assigned to usual care gained 0.6 kg (F(df=366)=24.17; I<0.001). Results were similar for the intention-to-treat model. BIT participants also had significant changes in BMI (-0.5 vs +0.2 kg/m2; F(df=366)=24.58); percent body fat (-0.4 vs +0.6%; F(df=366)=10.45); and waist circumference (-2.1 vs -0.4 cm; F(df=366)=17.09); p<0.001 for all. Conclusions: Internet-based weight-management interventions result in small amounts of weight loss, prevent weight gain, and have potential for widespread dissemination as a population health approach. Trial Registration: NCT00417599.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-126
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Epidemiology


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