Miriam Hospital study shows how to make statewide health campaigns more effective
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Researchers from The Miriam Hospital have found that adding evidence-based weight loss strategies to a statewide wellness campaign improves weight loss outcomes among participants. The study and its findings are published online in advance of print in the American Journal of Public Health. Lead researcher Tricia Leahey, Ph.D., and her colleagues chose to conduct a study among participants in Rhode Island’s annual, three-month statewide health campaign. Called Shape Up Rhode Island (SURI), the campaign was founded in 2005 and takes a grass roots approach in reaching Rhode Islanders. Leahey says, “Given their reach, statewide wellness initiatives like Shape Up Rhode Island have the potential to improve health in large numbers of individuals; however, weight losses produced are typically modest. Thus, we examined whether adding evidence-based weight loss strategies to a statewide wellness campaign improves weight loss outcomes. We found that such an approach was effective and could, therefore, significantly improve the public health impact of these campaigns.” As a researcher with the Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center of The Miriam Hospital, Leahey led the randomized trial. For the study, 230 participants were recruited from the 2011 SURI campaign and were randomly assigned to one of three groups: the standard SURI program, the SURI program plus an evidence-based internet behavioral weight loss program, or SURI plus the evidence-based internet program with the option to attend weekly group weight loss sessions.