What’s the Secret to Online Weight Loss Success?

Obesity is a problem in the United States. In fact, 42.5% of U.S. adults aged 20 and over have the disease. Not only is obesity the nation’s second leading cause of preventable death (behind only smoking cigarettes), it also leads to other serious health issues, including an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, cancer, sleep apnea and liver disease. The disease and its side effects impose a significant financial burden on America’s health care system.

As many make — and often fail to keep — New Year’s resolutions about exercise and weight loss goals, University of Missouri researcher Mansoo Yu has completed a long-term study that highlights which specific features of online weight loss interventions are most likely to lead to long-term weight loss and maintenance. Yu found that counseling with professional health coaches and social support from other users are the two most beneficial features of online weight-loss programs for middle-aged adults (ages 35-55) with obesity or overweight. The findings can help the public choose from among the seemingly infinite number of online weight loss interventions available in today’s digital age.

“Not only are there physical health issues related to obesity, but individuals with obesity are also at higher risk for mental health issues such as depression, poor self-esteem and social isolation,” said Mansoo Yu, a professor in the MU College of Health Sciences. “My research is at the intersection of social work and public health, and my goal is to help people live happier, healthier lives.”

Excerpted from University of Missouri

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