More Engagement with Weight Loss Program Fosters Success, New Study Shows

Madison Agee

Studies of weight loss programs in a clinical setting benefit from a tidy combination of elements, such as carefully controlled environments, rigorous processes and structured selection criteria for participants. That’s why it’s so important to examine any program in a real-world setting as well a clinical one – you need to make sure it’s going to work when you can’t quite plan for everything.

The creators of the Innergy™ program, Johns Hopkins Medicine and Healthways, knew that they needed to do just that. A sustained weight loss program, Innergy was borne out of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) sponsored clinical Practice-based Opportunities for Weight Reduction (POWER) trial. The two organizations wanted to advance the science of the successful POWER trial and gauge the weight loss program’s real-world efficacy.

A new study, “Initial Evaluation of a Scalable Lifestyle Program for Sustained Weight Loss,” published in the online Journal of Obesity and Weight Loss Therapy, demonstrates Innergy’s effectiveness in a non-clinical setting. Specifically, the study shows that, in the real-world environment of a mid-sized employer, Innergy can result in statistically significant weight loss. Program participants lost an average of 6.8 pounds per person over the six-month period of the study. Even better, nearly a quarter of the 265 participants lost 5 percent or more of their starting weight.

Perhaps unsurprisingly but definitively, the study also found that weight loss increased in proportion to how much participants engaged with the program. Researchers measured level of engagement by both how long participants remained engaged and how frequently they interacted with the program:

  • Participants still active with the program in the sixth month of the study had an average weight loss of 11.5 pounds and 5 percent of their starting weight.
  • Participants who took advantage of a broader range of program support elements – had more coaching calls, regularly used the website, and tracked their weight and exercise – were much more successful in shedding pounds. In fact, participants who interacted more than the study median with all five program support components lost an average of 5.7 percent of their starting weight.

The study also provided Innergy’s creators with valuable insight into how to make the weight loss program even better. Because the study demonstrated the critical importance of member commitment to weight loss, program designers updated and strengthened enrollment criteria to better assess a member’s readiness to change. Research data also revealed the essential role that re-engagement methods play following a period of inactivity, re-engagement tactics were both updated and added.

Innergy is a 24-month program, consisting of a six-month weight loss period and an 18-month maintenance period. The authors will continue to monitor the study population through the maintenance period.

One of the motives for developing Innergy was to help combat the epidemic of obesity. To learn more about this issue, download a copy of Healthways’ Well-Being Insights article, “Addressing America’s Obesity Epidemic: Practical, Flexible Weight Management Capabilities for a Spectrum of Needs.”

Topics: Weight Loss Health Conditions