An Innovative Weight-Loss

NIH weight loss clinical trials

Obese adults who received weight loss coaching via phone, Web, and email contact, as well as support from their primary care providers often lost a significant amount of weight—5 percent or more of their starting body weight—and kept it off for two years, reports a research team funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Principal investigator Lawrence J. Appel, M.D., M.P.H., of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, and colleagues will present these findings at the American Heart Association meeting on Nov. 15, 2011, at which time the results will also appear online in the New England Journal of Medicine.

A second, related, study led by Thomas A. Wadden, Ph.D., of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, found that 25 lifestyle counseling sessions combined with the option to use weight loss medication or meal replacements (such as liquid shakes or meal bars) helped about one-third of obese participants lose a significant amount of weight and keep it off for two years. These results were presented at the American Heart Association meeting and published online in the New England Journal of Medicine on Nov. 14, 2011.

Both studies were part of the $17.5 million Practice-based Opportunities for Weight Reduction, or POWER, trials funded by the NIH's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). These five-year, randomized, controlled clinical trials sought to identify effective weight loss treatments that can be used in primary care practices to help obese patients who have at least one additional risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Results from a third study are pending.

"Losing 5 percent or more of initial body weight in overweight or obese adults has been linked to improved health, including reduced cardiovascular risk factors such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes, " said Susan B. Shurin, M.D., acting director of the NHLBI. "Trials like these are critical for empowering health care providers to help reduce obesity and its associated health risks in America."

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