Study Aims to Help People Lose Weight Using Everyday Technology

Researchers at the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center are beginning a study exploring how interactive technology can help adults lose weight, especially those in underserved populations.

Dr Karen Johnson

The Portal to Support Healthy Choices in Activity and Lifestyle Management (CHAMPS) is a study sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health. Karen Johnson, MD, MPH, professor and chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine at the UTHSC School of Medicine, is the study's principal investigator.

Barriers to implementing clinical practice guidelines recommend the combined use of diet, physical activity, and behavior modification to reduce weight in overweight and obese adults. The CHAMPS study will test whether weight loss programs delivered to underserved populations through interactive technologies, including the Internet, electronic health record patient portals, and text and email messaging, reduce barriers and lead to significant weight loss. If effective, the method could provide enormous health benefits at a relatively low cost.

Obesity disproportionately affects underserved populations in the United States, such as racial and ethnic minorities, those of lower socioeconomic status, and those living in rural areas. These groups also had an increased risk of developing and dying from cancer.

“Obesity is a significant risk factor for disease and death,” said Dr. Johnson. “Translating a highly effective weight loss program into a more accessible delivery model could make the program more widely available to people in the Mid-South and hopefully prevent adverse health problems associated with excess body weight.”

A total of 250 people from the Memphis area will be enrolled in the CHAMPS study over the next four years and followed for one year. Participants will be assigned to an intervention or control group. All participants will receive informational sessions on nutrition, physical activity, healthy lifestyles and disease prevention through the study website and regular study contacts. Participants in the intervention group will also receive a follow-up call from a behavioral intervention specialist.

Two face-to-face research visits are required to determine eligibility. Participants must be Regional One Health patients, age 16 or older, overweight or obese, and have access to the Internet. If registered, two face-to-face data collection visits will be conducted. The weight loss program is provided free of charge to participants.

In-person visits take place at 66 N. Pauline St. For more information, email champsstudy@uthsc.edu, call 901.448.4584, or visit www.champsstudy.uthsc.edu.

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