High Tech Motivation

Thursday, December 22, 2011 - 10:46am

New diet program uses cell phones and computers to keep you motivated.

Many of us are resolving to lose weight in the New Year, and while we know what we need to do -- eat less, exercise more -- we're not exactly excited about the idea.

Now a new diet program uses modern technology to keep dieters motivated.

For Doug Howard the decision to lose weight came shortly after the scale revealed he weighed 280 pounds.

"I had gone to the doctors and found out I was diabetic," he recalls.

Doug's doctor recommended he enroll in a weight loss trial at Johns Hopkins.

All participants were given information about healthy eating and exercise.

Two-thirds of the participants were given access to a website where they could track their weight.

Some were offered telephone counseling sessions, while others had both phone and group counseling.

"Most people know what to do, the key is sustaining behavior. So a lot of the counseling was based on behaviors that sustain weight loss," says Dr. Lawrence Appel.

Both the phone and group counseling participants lost at least five percent of their body weight and kept it off for two years.

The doctors were most excited to learn phone counseling helped just as much as group because of its convenience it has the potential to reach more people.

"It's difficult to go to a facility on a regular basis week after week, whereas its much easier to schedule an appointment, do it over the phone and then schedule again for the following week," Dr. Appel says.

Doug participated in both phone and group counseling sessions and weighed himself every day to track his progress online.

His says all the support motivated him to exercise six days a week, and stick to an 1,800 calorie diet.

"I started out as diabetic, and now I am off all medications and I no longer have to monitor my blood sugar," he says now.

He's also down 100 pounds, living proof you can lose weight and keep it off.

You just may need a little help from your friends.

The researchers say their specific weight loss program is not available commercially, but it is easy to adopt.

Their hope is this study will inspire more doctors to offer patients online and phone dieting support.

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