News last week reinforced the power of in-person visits, phone conversations or even emails to registered dietitians for those who need a diet coach to help them stick with their weight loss program.

February 23, 2009

By Julie Upton, RD
News last week reinforced the power of in-person visits, phone conversations, or even emails to registered dietitians for those who need a diet coach to help them stick with their weight-loss program.

The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, tested the added effectiveness of having a registered dietitian’s (RD) support while on a weight-loss diet.

More than 375 subjects were randomly assigned to one of five groups: 1) Frequent in-person visits with a RD; 2) infrequent RD visits; 3) frequent phone calls to RDs; 4) frequent emails to RDs, and 5) no access to RDs. The subjects were enrolled in the study for six months and were also given a weight-loss medication, a diet manual, and access to a diet website.

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At the end of six months, there were differences in the amount of weight lost among the various intervention groups. Those who saw a dietitian face-to-face the most often lost about twice the weight of those who used a self-help approach. The study also found that any RD contact—often, less often, or via phone or email—is more effective than trying to diet on your own.

At six months, the results showed:

  • Nearly 19 pounds or 9% loss of initial body weight lost in high-frequency RD visits
  • Nearly 17.5 pounds or 8% of initial body weight loss in high-frequency phone calls
  • Just over 13 pounds or 6% lost with minimal in-person visits
  • Nearly 12 pounds or 6% initial body weight loss with frequent emails
  • Just over 11 pounds or 5% lost with no RD support.

In addition to the professional advice provided by the dietitians, the researchers found that those who lost the most weight also spent more time accessing the online web-based support tools. For example, those who lost the most weight logged on to the weight loss site 72 times compared to 50 times for the self-help group during the duration of the study.

This is great news for my profession as well as anyone seeking to lose weight using online tools or resources. For those inclined to meet a RD individually, a great way to locate one in your area is via the American Dietetic Association’s website or the Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition website.

If you aren’t up for an in-person visit, feel free to post your diet questions or concerns in response to this blog and I'll do my best to respond.

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