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Effectiveness of Phone and E-Mail Lifestyle Counseling for Long Term Weight Control Among Overweight Employees

van Wier, Marieke F. MSc; Dekkers, J. Caroline PhD; Hendriksen, Ingrid J. M. PhD; Heymans, Martijn W. PhD; Ariëns, Geertje A. M. PhD; Pronk, Nico P. PhD; Smid, Tjabe PhD; van Mechelen, Willem PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: June 2011 - Volume 53 - Issue 6 - p 680–686
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31821f2bbb
Original Articles

Objectives: To determine the effectiveness of a weight-management program with personal counseling by phone or e-mail.

Methods: A randomized controlled trial of a 6-month program comparing two modes of intervention delivery (phone, n = 462; Internet, n = 464) with self-directed materials (control, n = 460), among overweight employees. Change in body weight after 2 years was the main outcome.

Results: Among complete cases, weight loss in the Internet group was 1.2 kg (95% confidence interval [CI], −1.9 to −0.4) and in the phone group 0.8 kg (95% CI, −1.5 to 0.03), compared with the control group. Multiple imputation of missing body weight resulted in comparative weight losses of −0.9 kg (95% CI, −2.0 to 0.3) and −0.4 kg (95% CI, −1.4 to 0.7).

Conclusions: Among complete cases, the Internet intervention showed modest long-term weight loss, but among all participants neither program version was more effective than self-help.

From the Department of Public and Occupational Health and the EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research (Ms van Wier, Drs Dekkers, Ariëns, Smid, and van Mechelen) and the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics (Ms van Wier and Dr Heymans), VU University Medical Center; and Body@Work, Research Center Physical Activity, Work and Health, TNO-VU University Medical Center (Ms van Wier and Drs Dekkers, Ariëns, Hendriksen, and van Mechelen), Amsterdam; and Municipal Health Service, The Hague (Drs Dekkers and Ariëns) and TNO Quality of Life, Leiden (Dr Hendriksen), The Netherlands; HealthPartners, JourneyWell and HealthPartners Research Foundation, Minneapolis, and Harvard School of Public Health (Dr Pronk), Boston, MA.

Address correspondence to: Willem van Mechelen, PhD, EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, Department of Public and Occupational Health, PO box 7057, 1007 MB Amsterdam, the Netherlands (

This research was supported by the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development (2100.0096), which funded the study within the Prevention Program, the Netherlands Heart Foundation (2001B167) and Body@Work TNO-VUmc (2720).

©2011The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine