Online weight loss programme

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What the study is

Large numbers of people are overweight or obese and this can cause many health problems. Because NHS staff have limited time and may not be properly trained to help with weight loss, an online weight-loss support programme called POWeR was developed.

POWeR was trialled for a year by over 500 overweight or obese people and their weight was recorded by a nurse. Results showed that people who used POWeR lost more weight than people who didn’t.

As POWeR has now been shown to work, the research team are working with local authorities to promote POWeR to members of the public.

How patients and the public got involved

Once the programme was developed, members of the public who were overweight or obese were invited to get involved in the research at several stages. Ways they helped were:

  • Meeting a researcher and going through the programme page by page and commenting on what they liked and disliked about the programme. This allowed the researcher to make changes based on what patients had said.
  • Using the programme for a few weeks and then having a telephone call from a researcher who asked questions about

POWeR was developed using the person-based approach. This is a method of gaining feedback from a target group of users throughout the development process. From an early stage of developing the programme, the users are shown the programme and asked for in-depth feedback. Changes are made to the programme based on the feedback. The new version of the programme is then trialled by new users. This process is repeated until the feedback is mostly positive.

The final POWeR programme allows users to set weekly eating and physical activity goals to aid weight loss. They can also enter their weight weekly and track their weight loss progress over the course of a year. It contains a number of informational ‘sessions’ which users can access at any time for weight loss advice. Alongside the digital programme, users are offered support from a nurse either via telephone or face-to-face.

Results from a large scale randomised controlled trial of POWeR demonstrated clinically significant weight loss in an obese population. The team are currently working on disseminating POWeR to the public via local authorities. There are also a number of ongoing studies which have adapted POWeR for different populations (e.g. women in the postnatal period, cancer survivors, office workers).