July 27th, 2010
12:15 AM ET

The more you log, the more weight you keep off

Previous studies have shown that one of the keys to losing weight and keeping it off, is to keep a food diary and watch what you eat. There are plenty of tools on the Internet that make it easy to keep track of your diet and your weight, but the question is, do they help?

According to a new study out of Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, the more people use these interactive weight management sites, the longer they keep their weight off.

The study looked at 348 people using the same Internet weight management program. Participants were encouraged to log in at least once a week, receiving e-mail reminders and follow-up automated phone messages if they did not. On the website, participants recorded their weight, minutes of exercise, and the number of days they kept food diaries. The site also included an interactive bulletin board where participants could talk with one another and pose questions to nutrition and exercise experts.

After a two-year period, 65 percent of the participants were still logging on to the website. Investigators found those who logged on the most and recorded their weight at least once a month, had kept their weight off, as opposed to those who did not use the site.

"Keeping weight off is even more difficult than losing it in the first place, so the fact that so many people (in the study) were able to maintain a good portion of their weight loss is very encouraging to us" says Victor J. Stevens, Ph.D., study co-author and senior investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research.

If you're looking to lose some weight, study investigators say there are many useful weight management websites that people can access. They advise consumers to look for these elements when choosing a site.

· Sites that encourage accountability by asking users to consistently record weight, exercise, and calories consumed
· Sites that include tailored or personalized information
· Sites with interactive features that allow users to communicate with each other and with nutrition and exercise experts
· Sites with accurate health information.

"Consistency and accountability are essential in any weight maintenance program. The unique part of this intervention was that it was available on the Internet, whenever and wherever people wanted to use it," said study lead author Kristine L. Funk, M.S., R.D., a researcher at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Oregon.

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