Online diets subject of Temple Univ. study

July 17, 2009 5:46:06 PM PDT
There are dozens of computer-based weight loss programs available, and tons of pop-up ads for them. But how well do they work... And for who?

Researchers at Temple University, Baylor University, and Cambridge University are trying to find out what works in computer-based diets, and who they work with.

Alice Polidoro of Havertown, Pa., does her best to eat healthy.

She says, "I've been struggling with my weight since I had my children, 13, 14 years ago."

But when despite her best efforts she couldn't keep the scale from going up, she joined a weight control study at Temple University.

Researchers there say online diet programs are booming in popularity...but there's little scientific evidence to support them.

So they've designed a program, based on other popular plans,to study how effective they are, and who they work best for.

Gary Foster, Ph.D, the study leader at Temple, says "Some people really like that face to face, and that personal coaching. Other people would like to log on at 1 in the morning, and do their calorie counts, and track their physical fitness that way."

For Alice, the website offered personalized advice.

Dr. Foster says, "If you enter that you had a slice of pizza, it will prompt about what type of pizza. It will give you calories and fat grams. It will help with goal setting, so it will give you a way to rate your progress.

In addition to eating, the program...like others, also tracks exercise.

During the 12-week study, Alice lost 5 pounds, but more importantly, fine-tuned her eating.

"The most important thing that I'm learning is portion control," she says.

Dr. Foster adds, "It's the structure that helps. It's the accountability, getting on the scale, writing it down."

The study is funded by a soft-drink company, but no brands are mentioned in this first part of the study. Volunteers are still being sought.

To find out more, call 215-707-8651, or log onto Temple Univ. CORE.

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