To evaluate an employee Internet-based weight management program.
Changes in eating habits, stage of change, body weight, and weight categories were compared between enrollment and 6 months after enrollment. Weights and weight categories were compared among a subset of participants and non-participants at 12 months.
Seven thousand seven hundred forty-three International Business Machines employees enrolled in the program between December 2004 and February 2006, and 74% were overweight or obese (body mass index ≥25). At 6 months, follow-up survey respondents (1639) had significantly increased most healthy eating habits (eg, 20% decrease in junk foods) and the frequency of healthy foods eaten (eg, 12% increase in fruits). The percentage of participants in the normal weight category had increased from 27.0% to 29.8%, while average weight decreased from 182.6 to 180.2 lbs (P < 0.05). Increased web site usage was associated with increased weight loss and stage of change improvements. At 12 months, a higher percentage of participants had moved into the normal weight category compared with the percentage of non-participants (+2.0% points; P < 0.05), although there were no differences in average weight change.
Despite issues of limited penetration and potential self-selection, this Internet-based program had utility in reaching a large number of employees in dispersed work settings, and it led to improved eating habits and improved stage of change at 6 months and more individuals moving into the normal weight category at 6 and 12 months.