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Physician-Assisted Weight Loss Planning May Lead to Better Outcomes

Encouraging people  to lose weight has been a challenge in the health care field, but a new study focused on middle aged women showed that having a physician's assistance and guidance in getting fit had better outcomes than going at it alone.

The study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh divided 99 inactive women between the ages of 45-65 into two groups. The interventionist group worked with their primary care physician to get advice and learn ways to get fit, and continued to work out in a group setting doing a variety of workouts including yoga, walking, and resistance training.

“It was done in the doctor’s office, which I think it was a cool trigger. It’s sort of saying to people okay this is a place you usually come for refills, for your physical, this is a place to come for health,” said Molly Conroy, an associate professor at Pitt.

The other group was given information, but left to their own devices.

The study focused on middle-aged women because that is the age that most women become physically inactive according to Conroy, and getting them excited to work out was one focus of the study.

After three months the women in the interventionist group worked out at about an average of 90 minutes more per week than when they started the program, compared to the other group who worked out about 30 minutes more per week.

The combination of working with a physician, and being in a group setting are what Conroy believes encouraged the women to keep up with their physical activity.

“The thing that we were most interested in is how do you get people to continue—[so] what were the results at one year,” said Conroy, “we also had women come in at twelve months after starting to see how they were doing. At that point the women in the interventionist lead group had slightly higher levels of activity, but there was no longer what we call a significant difference.”

Now Conroy is conducting a study with men and women who have already become physically active to see what it takes to keep them in shape.