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Telephone Support for Lifestyle Changes May Help Obese Patients on Medication Lose More Weight

This study also is the subject of an American College of Physicians video news story.

February 17, 2009 -- There is no magic pill for weight loss. Some studies have shown that obese patients can achieve greater weight-loss success with a combination of pharmacotherapy and a lifestyle modification program that includes a low-calorie diet, increased physical activity, and behavioral changes.

Researchers measured weight loss in 376 obese patients taking a daily dose of sibutramine to determine which method of delivering support for a lifestyle modification program would produce the most weight loss. Patients were randomly assigned to high-frequency face-to-face counseling, low-frequency face-to-face counseling, high-frequency telephone counseling, high-frequency e-mail counseling, or no dietician contact. After six months, the patients assigned to high-frequency telephone contact with a dietician lost the same amount of weight as those assigned to high-frequency face-to-face counseling.

Researchers conclude that telephone counseling could be a viable and cost-effective way for primary care physicians to help their obese patients lose more weight.

The study appears in today’s issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, one of the five most widely cited peer-reviewed medical journals in the world. The journal has been published for 82 years and accepts only 7 percent of the original research studies submitted for publication. Annals of Internal Medicine is published by the American College of Physicians, the largest medical specialty organization and the second-largest physician group in the United States. ACP members include 126,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internists specialize in the prevention, detection, and treatment of illness in adults.

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