Dr. Jennifer Logue of Lancaster Medical School has been awarded half a million pounds by the National Institute for Health Research to examine the effectiveness of NHS and local government interventions to treat obesity.
The three year project entitled "BEhavioural Weight Management: COMponents of Effectiveness (BE:COME)" is jointly led by Dr Logue, who is a Clinical Reader in Metabolic Medicine, and Professor Olivia Wu who is Professor of Health Technology Assessment at the University of Glasgow.
Behavioral weight management intervention programs are the main NHS funded treatment for obesity in the UK.
Most often these are community-based groups which meet weekly for 12 weeks, focusing on diet, physical activity and behavioral change.
Dr. Logue said:
We want to find out which parts of the programs are linked to weight-loss, and what the best combination of parts is for different groups of people taking part."
For example, one program may have exercise classes every week but another may simply give advice on being more active.
These differences are seen across the recommended diets, the help for people to plan and stick to the program (like keeping a diary of what you eat or setting targets for how much weight to lose), and things related to how the program is run, such as the training of the staff or how far people need to travel to take part.
"It has been difficult to compare behavioral weight management intervention programs and see what works best because researchers have used different ways to describe the weight-loss results in studies, or do not fully describe what the program involved for participants."
The project will aim to find out which ones are effective.
"No one is sure what works best. It may be that the same program will not work as well for everyone; younger adults, men, ethnic minorities or those from deprived backgrounds may have different needs."