The Well-Being Journal

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

Soda Ban Battle Begins

Jennifer Rudloff

Reposted from the MeYou Health Blog, written by Eugénie Olson

Beverage makers and the New York City Board of Health are getting ready for a big battle over sugary drinks, and it’s going to be anything but sweet.

In response to a recent citywide ban on the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces, the American Beverage Association has partnered with New York City restaurant and movie-theater owners to challenge the Board of Health and ask that a judge reject the size limits on soda. The ban is slated to begin in March 2013.

The restrictions, originally proposed by mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, were championed as a way to help control the growing obesity problem in New York City, where more than half of all adults are overweight or obese. City officials argue that by limiting soda size at restaurants, street carts, and entertainment and sports venues, they can promote healthier living.

Indeed, they feel the ban is well within the rights of the department. “The Board of Health absolutely has the authority to regulate matters affecting health, and the obesity crisis killing nearly 6,000 New Yorkers a year—and impacting the lives of thousands more—unquestionably falls under its purview,” wrote the mayor’s chief spokesman, Marc La Vorgna, in a statement.

Beverage makers and New York City restaurant and movie theater owners feel differently, of course. They believe that the ban is “a dramatic departure” from the amount of influence that the Board of Health typically exerts on the well-being of its residents, and that the city should defer to state legislators on this issue. The soft-drink industry has had luck in the past when appealing to state legislators; in 2010 it convinced them to scrap a proposed soda tax.

What do you think? Do you agree with soft-drink makers that the Board of Health went too far, and that New York City residents should be able to buy whatever size soda they like? Or do you think that the ban is a good way to help improve New Yorkers’ well-being?

Topics: Healthy Living In the News Weight Loss Health

A resolution checkup and a trend to break for a healthier second half of 2012

Jennifer Rudloff

healthy choicesWe often look at the beginning of the year as a starting point for new well-being goals. Maybe you were one of many who made such a resolution, or maybe not. Either way, this might be a great point to stop and think about it as we continue in the second half of 2012. Read on to learn why.

 

Where are you?

Maybe you are going strong in your resolution, never had interest in setting one, or are somewhere in between and need a boost of motivation. Wherever you are, you might be interested to know that research presents us with a great wellness opportunity for the second half of the year.

What the trends show

According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index,® Americans on average experience a decline in healthy behaviors and physical health in the second half of the year. We can all probably name factors that influence the lack of steadiness. The well-known truth is that resolutions aren’t always easy to keep all on our own and momentum can easily fade.

What we can do about it

Well, knowledge is power. So now that we’re aware that the U.S. as a whole could be near a high point for the year in healthy behaviors and physical wellness, we can look at this as an opportunity to do something to prevent a decline. If we all make simple, positive changes, perhaps we can even reach new highs in our individual well-being all throughout the year. Think about how it would feel for you personally and what it would mean for your organization as a whole. Below are a couple ideas that could help.

  1. A simple way to get started could be making one tangible well-being improvement goal for the next 30 days, and listing some related action steps. You can do anything for 30 days, right? At the end of 30 days, evaluate your progress, and then decide if you want to continue with that goal or switch to a new one. Make sure to write down your goal, find some resources to support it, track your progress, and for best results, enlist an accountability partner (or your whole organization). By continually introducing new ideas and evaluating your progress, healthy behaviors can become habit, and therefore more of a lifestyle.
  2. Take it a step further and use Healthways as your source for scientific research and proven programs filled with a breadth of resources, tools and support. We can help identifying the unique needs of your organization, create and sustain effective engagement with individual members, and drive positive behavior change that delivers measurable outcomes for the long term. Read about our approach and our solution to learn more, or contact us.

Just a few of the programs that make up our configurable Well-Being Improvement Solution include:

  • The Healthways Well-Being Assessment™, personal Well-Being Plans online and Health Coaching over the phone
  • Prime® Fitness for access to more than 9,000 fitness centers
  • Innergy™ for sustainable weight management
  • QuitNet® for quitting tobacco
  • SilverSneakers® to help seniors boost physical and social activity

If you’re currently a member of a Healthways Well-Being Improvement Solution, you and your colleagues may already be enjoying the benefits of improved physical, mental and social well-being, as well as the financial benefits such as lower healthcare costs and fewer sick days. Maybe you want to take your program even further or get your whole community involved in an initiative, like our BlueZones Project™. Talk with your benefits manager or with us here at Healthways for strategic input.

Let’s all partner together for the greatest well-being improvement—for the second half of 2012 and for the long term.

Topics: Healthy Living Weight Loss Workplace Well-Being Engagement Well-Being Index

The Global Obesity Epidemic Requires a 360° Solution: Dr. Jim Pope at the Milken Institute Global Conference

Jennifer Rudloff

Jim Pope_Milken Institute_Global ConferenceYesterday, Healthways Vice President and Chief Science Officer, Dr. James Pope, participated in a panel discussion, “Weight of the World: Strategies to Fight the Global Obesity Epidemic,” at the Milken Institute Global Conference.

Each year, the Milken Conference convenes hundreds of business leaders, Nobel Prize winners, scientists, educators, philanthropists, and other global decision-makers to discuss their provocative opinions and fresh insights. The Conference delves into urgent challenges facing the world, from the economy, to health care, to energy, to education. Attendees not only debate issues, but also help move policy towards solutions.

Moderated by Reuters Senior Health and Science Correspondent Sharon Begley, the panel – including Kent Bradley, Senior Vice President, Chief Medical Officer, Safeway Inc.; Francine Kaufman, Chief Medical Officer and Vice President of Global Medical, Clinical and Health Affairs, Medtronic Diabetes; and David Kirchhoff, President and CEO, Weight Watchers International Inc. – aimed to find out.

During the panel, Dr. Pope and the others discussed the severity and rapid growth of the global obesity epidemic and its implications on public health, productivity, human capital formation and economic development. In addition, they talked about the causes and solutions and how businesses and other leaders can support interventions.

We know that – although obesity rates in European countries such as Germany and the U.K are lower than the U.S. obesity rate – obesity is a global problem. During the panel, Dr. Pope noted that, while obesity rates in the U.S. may appear to have plateaued, we still maintain an unfortunate trend of shockingly high obesity rates, and the rest of the world is catching up.

So, why is this happening?

Experts on the panel attribute this trend to several factors: we eat out more often and on larger plates, we don’t engage in as much physical activity at our jobs as we used to, and we now produce food much more efficiently, resulting in cheaper calories.

Ultimately, however, Dr. Pope and the panelists presented a light at the end of this tunnel of grim obesity patterns. Personal behaviors really provide the greatest opportunity to improve health and reduce premature death. We can’t depend on our doctors alone. We need to rely on ourselves and on our employers if we want to turn this trend around.

But how can we sustain these programs and their results? In our opinion, a multi-faceted, collaborative approach works best.

As indicated by the Johns Hopkins University POWER Trial, in order to lose weight and combat obesity, more is necessary than physician interaction. We found great results in combining physician advice with telephonic weight-loss guidance from Healthways health coaches. In this case, the doctor was not conveyed as the expert on weight loss – rather, our motivational coaches provided expertise for the patient’s approach to food, exercise, financial management, and life in general. We used this collaborative model to launch our new weight-loss offering, Innergy.

At Healthways, we’re always looking at how to improve the health of our nation, and prevent the progress of unfortunate trends like obesity. Through our Blue Zones initiative, we examine how people live to be older and healthier. Iowa is spearheading the charge and is focused on becoming the healthiest state in the nation through the program. Its communities have come together to support each other in this effort. They know that the U.S. simply cannot afford to keep going in the direction it has been. And they are leading by example.

This panel conveyed that the Milken Institute Global Conference not only provides a forum for scholarly discussion on many subjects; it also provides a forum for hope for the future. To learn more about Healthways efforts to fight U.S. obesity with our collaborative – and effective – approach, click here.

What lessons do you think policy makers should keep in mind as we strive to fight the global obesity epidemic? Share your thoughts here, or tweet us to let us know what you think!

To view the full panel discussion, visit the link below:
Weight of the World: Strategies to Fight the Global Obesity Epidemic

Topics: weight of the world Obesity Weight Loss Innergy Healthcare Prevention Milken Institute Global Conference Healthways Johns Hopkins Events Jim Pope James Pope