MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Amy Gorin, Ph.D.
Professor, Psychological Sciences
Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, and Policy (InCHIP)
University of Connecticut
Storrs, CT 06269-1248
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: This study examined whether behavioral weight management programs have a ripple effect on untreated spouses. That is, if one member of a couple participates in a weight loss program, does the other untreated spouse benefit? Given that many spouses are of a similar weight status, if one spouse is overweight, the other spouse tends to be overweight as well — understanding how weight management programs impact both spouses has important public health implications.
To examine this question, 130 spouses were randomly assigned to Weight Watchers or a self-guided control group. Spouses assigned to Weight Watchers group had only one member enrolled in a structured 6-month weight loss program (Weight Watchers) that provided in-person counseling and online tools to assist with weight loss.
In the self-guided group, one member of the couple received a four-page handout with information on healthy eating, exercise, and weight control strategies (e.g., choosing a low-fat, low-calorie diet, portion control). The results indicate that nearly one-third (32%) of untreated spouses in both groups lost ≥3% of their initial body weight (weight loss based on obesity management guidelines) at the 6-month mark, and weight losses did not differ between untreated spouses of Weight Watchers and self-guided participants.