Monday, November 17, 2008

Shocking Social Support for Weight Loss Study

I like being right. And one of the tips I give over and over and over again that always gets supported by research is the need to have social support when you're trying to lose weight.

But today, I have a study that flips the results of social support, proving that it is even MORE powerful than I previously thought.

Researchers from Connecticut, Rhode Island, Ohio, Arkansas, and Pennsylvania teamed up to study the effects of an intense weight loss program on not only hundreds of diabetic subjects, but also on their spouses who were not officially enrolled in the research trial.

International Journal of Obesity (2008) 32, 1678–1684. Weight loss treatment influences untreated spouses and the home environment: evidence of a ripple effect

The doctors wanted to see if a weight loss program delivered to one spouse could be "taken home" and have beneficial effects for the untreated spouse as well.

Three hundred and fifty seven diabetic participants and spouses were treated for 1 year.

Subjects were divided into two groups, with one group receiving usual diabetes care while the other group received intensive lifestyle intervention (ILI) help.

The spouses of the ILI group lost 4.9 pounds over the 1 year study, even though they had no contact with the researchers. The spouses of participants receiving normal care lost only 0.51 pounds over the year. In addition, more ILI spouses lost 5% of their body weight than normal care spouses (26 vs 9%, P<0.001).

One of the big reasons for the ILI spouse weight loss was nutrition. These folks significantly decreased their daily energy intake and ate less fat than the normal care spouses.

And not surprisingly, spouse weight loss was associated with participant weight loss. That means if your wife was in the study and she lost weight, that means you had a greater chance of losing weight as well.

That doesn't mean you should just count on your wife to lose weight though! I reported on a similar study last year showing that if you workout with someone who is losing weight, you have a better chance of losing weight as well. So workout with her, or workout with a friend, and you'll get more results.

The bottom line is this:

You must get social support if you want to lose weight. In person support is best, but online weight loss forums will also help you change your eating and exercise habits to lose fat permanently.

Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS
Fat Loss Social Support

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