ABSTRACT: Elearning approaches to prevent weight gain in young adults: A randomized controlled study
OBJECTIVE:Preventing obesity among young adults should be a preferred public health approach given the limited efficacy of treatment interventions. This study examined whether weight gain can be prevented by online approaches using two different behavioral models, one overtly directed at obesity and the other covertly.METHODS:A three-group parallel randomized controlled intervention was conducted in 2012-2013; 20,975 young adults were allocated a priori to one control and two “treatment” groups. Two treatment groups were offered online courses over 19 weeks on (1) personal weight control (“Not the Ice Cream Van,” NTICV) and, (2) political, environmental, and social issues around food (“Goddess Demetra,” “GD”). Control group received no contact. The primary outcome was weight change over 40 weeks.RESULTS:Within-group 40-week weight changes were different between groups (P < 0.001): Control (n = 2,134): +2.0 kg (95% CI = 1.5, 2.3 kg); NTICV (n = 1,810): -1.0 kg (95% CI = -1.3, -0.5); and GD (n = 2,057): -1.35 kg (95% CI = -1.4 to -0.7). Relative risks for weight gain vs.CONTROL:NTICV = 0.13 kg (95% CI = 0.10, 0.15), P < 0.0001; GD = 0.07 kg (95% CI = 0.05, 0.10), P < 0.0001.
CONCLUSIONS:Both interventions were associated with prevention of the weight gain observed among control subjects. This low-cost intervention could be widely transferable as one tool against the obesity epidemic. Outside the randomized controlled trial setting, it could be enhanced using supporting advertising and social media.
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