Giving patients the power to fight obesity


Southampton researchers have demonstrated that their POWeR+ online weight loss programme, with occasional nurse support, is a cost-effective way to help patients manage their weight.

Supporting patients

Obesity is a growing healthcare problem, associated with a greater risk of life-threatening diseases such as heart disease, stroke, liver disease and type 2 diabetes. However, losing weight is far from easy and most patients require support.

Although one-to-one consultations with dietary experts are very effective at helping people to lose weight, the high cost prohibits such schemes from being rolled out across the NHS.

Researchers at our NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre have therefore developed and tested a new online POWeR+ programme to provide a more cost-effective way to help patients lose weight, with their findings published in the Lancet diabetes and endocrinology.

Enabling self-management

POWeR+ provides patients with automated support to help them do regular exercise and manage their diet effectively. It offers a choice of either a low-calorie or low-carbohydrate six month eating plan, 24 online sessions and email reminders. 

Two-thirds of the patients who took part registered with POWER+, with a few opportunities to talk to a nurse, while the remaining third were given information sheets on good ways to lose weight.

A year later, around 30% of patients who used POWeR+ with nurse support (either face-to-face or remotely) had achieved a clinically relevant 5% reduction in weight, compared to just 19% of those given information sheets.

Those who used POWeR+ lost an average of 1.5kg more and said they felt significantly more enabled to manage their own weight.

Savings to the NHS

According to estimates by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), even spending £100 per kilogram of weight lost, if it is kept off for life, is likely to save the NHS money in the long term because it reduces costs associated with obesity-related health problems.

POWeR+ combined with nurse phone calls or emails cost considerably less than £100 per kilogram of weight lost, so could provide a cost-effective weight loss programme that could reduce the cost of obesity and in the long term give substantial NHS savings.

Posted on Monday 10 October 2016