Over the past 5 years, online weight loss programs have become increasingly popular. One such Internet-only weight loss program claims to have over 1.2 million members in it's database. We are seeing more and more companies creating an Internet presence to assist with weight loss.
Is it a money grab, or can an Internet-based program genuinely help you?
How can sitting at the computer help you to lose weight?
How can we trust the information being provided to us?
Let's try and answer some of those questions.
Money-making or Real Help?
A study conducted by the Brown Medical School provides some interesting results. They compared the results of 2 groups of overweight people over a period of 6 months. Both groups were trying to lose weight. One group was subscribed into a structured Web and email based program - whilst the other group was simply given a number of Internet links to weight loss information.
Participants who were given a structured behavioral treatment program with weekly contact and individualized feedback had better weight loss compared with those given links to educational Web sites. The study concluded that "the Internet and e-mail appear to be viable methods for delivery of structured behavioral weight loss programs."
However a smaller study conducted later compared only a single online weight loss program with a group given only a weight loss manual. The results here were quite different, with the non-Internet group getting better results.
Losing Weight By sitting in Front of the Computer?
Our modern sedentary lifestyle is having a huge impact on health in the Western world. However, never before have we had so much information available at our fingertips. The on-line weight loss programs, are allowing people to have counseling, and weekly personalized support at a fraction of the normal cost.
There is no doubt that "bricks-and-mortar" weight loss centers, such as Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, and LA Weight Loss, are significantly more expensive than their on-line competitors.
The support available from on-line forums, message boards, email, and chat, is contributing to peoples weight loss efforts.
Weight Loss Information - Quackery or Quality?
There is one thing about the Internet - it allows anyone to take up a pen (or a keyboard) and start writing. Like most modern mediums, this is both good and bad. There is considerable ms-information out there, but it can allow you to make more informed decisions.
Previously our only source of information was from advertising, magazine articles, or from our local physicians. This information typically came from a single school of thought, or establishment. The Internet allows us to sift for real-world information, written by the very people that have suffered the conditions, and found an answer.
Without wishing to deride the medical establishment, it seems that many doctors are too quick to prescribe medication. We can't help but feel cynical when we see the names of pharmaceutical companies written on pens and notepads in the doctors office!
We need to be more informed and weigh up our own decisions for what is best for our bodies.
Online Weight Loss - What To Expect
The two studies published in the JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), tell us that, yes, on-line weight loss can and does work. It also tells us to be realistic about what to expect. The best person to help you succeed is you.
It's also worth bearing in mind that the cost for these programs is very good compared with the amount of information that you receive.
If you are considering altering your diet, and beginning an exercise regime, it's well worth having a look at some of the programs on-line to see if they will suit.