By Joene Hendry
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Losing weight may be no more than a few podcasts away, but study findings suggested that not all weight-loss podcasts are created equally.
Such programs should be engaging and offer sound diet and exercise advice based on behavioral theory, cautions study co-author Dr. Gabrielle M. Turner-McGrievy, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
"Otherwise, people will not derive much benefit," Turner-McGrievy told Reuters Health in an email.
In the study, overweight and obese men and women listening to behavior-therapy based weight-loss podcasts for 12 weeks lost more than 6 pounds (2.9 kilograms) on average, Turner-McGrievy and colleagues report in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
These "enhanced" podcasts provided 13 men and 28 women (38 years old on average) with diet, exercise, and weight loss tips, and encouraged them to set personal goals. Enhanced podcasts also reinforced healthy eating and exercise information through an ongoing, and "entertaining" soap-opera saga, the researchers note.
By contrast, a similar "control" group of 7 men and 29 women, just under 40 years old on average, who listened to weight-loss and positive thinking advice offered in a generally available podcast, lost less than one pound (0.3 kilograms) on average.
Both series of podcasts were about 15-20 minutes long.
In addition to greater weight loss, those using the enhanced podcast reported eating more fruits and vegetables, spending more days exercising vigorously, knowing more about weight loss during follow-up testing, and "greater satisfaction with the intervention," the researchers note. However, the groups ate the same amount of high-fat foods.
Simply listening to a podcast won't necessarily make you get out of your chair to exercise: More than half of the study participants in both groups listened to downloads while sitting at their computers, rather than while walking or exercising.
SOURCE: American Journal of Preventive Medicine, October 2009.