Mail and phone interventions for weight loss in a managed-care setting: weigh-to-be 2-year outcomes
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OBJECTIVE: Evaluate effectiveness of weight-loss interventions in a managed care setting. METHODS: Three-arm randomized clinical trial: usual care, mail, and phone intervention. Participants were 1801 overweight managed care organization (MCO) members. Measures included baseline height, weight at baseline and 24 months, self-reported weight at 18 months. Intervention and participation in other weight-related programs was monitored across 24 months. RESULTS: Weight losses were 2.2, 2.4, and 1.9 kg at 18 months in the mail, phone, and usual care groups, respectively. Mail and phone group weight changes were not significantly different from usual care (P<0.35). Weight losses at 24 months did not differ by condition (0.7 kg mail, 1.0 kg phone, and 0.6 kg usual care, P=0.55). Despite treatment availability over 24 months, participation diminished after 6 months. Participation was a significant predictor of outcomes in the mail and phone groups at 18 months and the mail group at 24 months. Cost-effectiveness of phone counseling was $132 per 1 kg of weight loss with mail and usual care achieving similar cost-efficiency of $72 per 1 kg of weight loss. CONCLUSION: Although mail- and phone-based weight-loss programs are a reasonably efficient way to deliver weight-loss services, additional work is needed to enhance their short- and long-term efficacy.
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