Evaluation of a web-based weight loss intervention for men with type 2 diabetes: pilot randomised controlled trial

Anna Haste, Ashley J. Adamson, Elaine McColl, Vera Araujo-Soares, Ruth Bell

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Background: Rising obesity levels remain a major public health concern due to the clear link with several comorbidities such as diabetes. Diabetes now affects 6% of the UK population. Modest weight loss of 5% to 10% has been shown to be associated with significant reductions in blood sugar, lipid, and blood pressure levels. Men have been shown to be attracted to programs that do not require extensive face-to-face time commitments, illustrating the potential audience available for health behavior change via the Web.

Objective: The objective of our study was to evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of a Web-based weight loss intervention in men with type 2 diabetes.

Methods: We conducted a pilot, parallel 2-arm, individually randomized controlled trial with embedded process evaluation. Participants were randomly assigned in a one-to-one ratio to the usual care group or the 12-month Web-based weight loss intervention, including dietitian and exercise expert feedback. Face-to-face recruitment and assessment were performed by the researcher unblinded. Data collected included weight, height, body mass index (BMI), and waist circumference, together with an audit trail of eligibility, recruitment, retention, and adherence rates. A process evaluation (website use data and qualitative interviews) monitored adherence, acceptability, and feasibility of the intervention.

Results: General practice database searches achieved the recruitment target (n=61) for the population of men with type 2 diabetes, of whom 66% (40/61) completed 3-month follow-up measurements. By 12 months, the retention rate was 52% (32/61), with 12 of the 33 men allocated to the intervention group still active on the website. The intervention was seen as acceptable by the majority of participants. We gained insights about acceptability and use of the website from the parallel process evaluation.

Conclusions: Recruitment to the Web-based weight loss intervention was successful. Results are descriptive, but there were positive indications of increased weight loss (in kilograms and as a percentage), and reduced waist circumference and BMI for the intervention group from 3 to 12 months, in comparison with control. This research adds to the evidence base in relation to incorporating a Web-based weight loss intervention within the UK National Health Service (NHS). NHS weight loss services are struggling to provide sufficient referrals. Therefore, alternative modes of delivery, with the potential to reduce health professional input and time per patient while still enabling individual and tailored care, need to be investigated to identify whether they can be effective and thus benefit the NHS.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalJMIR Diabetes
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2017


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