Scapuzzi, S.; Aguilar, A
Introduction: The main challenge in the obesity treatment is weight loss maintenance and the ability to have an impact on the modification of eating habits. Considering the significant difficulties with regard to accessibility, costs, treatment adherence and long-term efficacy of traditional interventions, Internet-based treatment are proposed as an alternative to reduce cost in terms of economics, to reduce time of medical appointments and to improve adherence to the treatment.
Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of using the Internet to achieve long-term weight loss maintenance compared to traditional interventions based on face-to-face contact.
Methods: Bibliographic review focused exclusively on randomized controlled trials (RCT) or quasi experimental that included Internet-based interventions, that enrolled healthy adults, obese or overweight, which main outcome measure was weight loss maintenance and with a minimum duration of 12 months or more.
Results: The 5 articles which met the inclusion criteria compared interventions performed through an interactive web site, which included also self-monitoring tools, with interventions performed with face-to-face contact (minimum or frequent) and/or self-directed group. In all the cases, the main measure evaluated was weight change at the end of the treatment.
Discussion: The review shows controversial results about the effectiveness of internet-based intervention in maintaining long-term weight loss. Although only one study showed that internet-based intervention managed to keep the weight in a way comparable to face to-face contact intervention, in others aspects such as the frequency of delivery of self-monitoring diaries of dietary intake and physical activity, the response in the first phase maintenance treatment or the number of contacts established between pairs, the Internet intervention provided better results compared to traditional treatment.
Conclusions: Further research is needed to achieve the best way to incorporate the use of Internet to longterm weight loss maintenance treatments either exclusively or in addition to face to face interventions