Research News Flash
Obesity, a common health concern among the general population in the United States, has an especially high prevalence in veterans, specifically those that receive care from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA has attempted to help veterans lose weight and maintain a healthy weight through programs such as MOVE!. These population-based programs provide screening for obesity and give veterans evidence-based options to improve their health. However veterans, especially those who are employed, have difficulty participating in the VA programs due to the travel distance required to participate, as well as the schedule of the activities.
This study attempted to analyze the ease-of-use and participant satisfaction of three commercially available, cost-efficient home diet and exercise programs. The study design was a randomized crossover trial in which each participant engaged in two of the three programs. The three interventions in this study included social support, objective monitoring, and structured high intensity. All groups also received point-of-decision posters, which are designed to remind and encourage healthy decisions. The social support intervention used SparkPeople, a website that allows for social interaction through group discussion and forums. The objective monitoring intervention used a low-cost measure of exercise and sleep called BodyMedia Fit. The structured high intensity intervention used the commercially available product P90X, which is popular among veterans.
Five themes emerged from the qualitative research, including:
- Online Social Support and Engagement: utilized more by female participants
- Objective Monitoring: helpful, with the exception of lack of participant awareness on how to use the newly acquired information
- Structure: especially important for those veterans transitioning from active to civilian life
- Awareness and Understanding: specifically, of the objective information provided, as well as the food log
- Point-of-Decision Prompts: limited due to their static nature
SparkPeople was the most successful intervention in both satisfaction and weight loss; however, all interventions resulted in weight loss among participants. This study supports the need for future large-scale studies to examine means to assist veterans with weight management and the adoption of healthy lifestyle choices.
Bree Holtz, B., Krein, S. L., Bentley, D. R., Hughes, M. E., Giardino, N. D., & Richardson, C. R. (2014). Comparison of Veteran experiences of low-cost, home-based diet and exercise interventions. Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, 51(1), 149-160.