Background: Rates of overweight and obesity are continuing to rise in Australia. Even a modest weight loss around ≥ 5-10 % of body weight is associated with significant improvement in chronic disease risk factors related to obesity. Self-directed weight management programs can be effective and low cost methods that can target a wider range of overweight and obese population. These low intensity programs provide individuals with behaviour and lifestyle modification skills that assist them to manage their own weight.
Objective: The purpose of this narrative review is to identify and evaluate the effectiveness of low intensive weight management programs implemented in Australia. This study also investigates the impact of variation in the level of professional contact in promoting weight change.
Method: Electronic databases Pub Med, Embase, CINAHL, Medline and PsysINFO via OVIDSP, Web of Science and Informit Online were searched for low intensity weight management programs. Self-directed weight management studies were included in this review if: participants were aged ≥ 18 years with Body Mass Index (BMI) ≥ 25 kg/m2, a primary or secondary aim of the study was weight management, and the weight change was reported.
Result: From twelve studies that met the inclusion criteria, ten studies were delivered through technology-based programs and two other studies involved professional-led strategies. Studies Included were assessed and categorized into three groups of low, moderate, and high professional contact programs; based on the intensity of support provided with healthcare providers.
The low intensity weight management programs can be effective at achieving moderate weight loss, maintenance and preventing weight gain. We have found no evidence that suggests providing higher level of professional contact results in a greater weight change in these programs. However further studies and analyses are required to investigate the effectiveness of delivery formats and features of low intensity weight management programs.