Background: Obesity is a major cause of preventable death in Australia with prevalence increasing at an alarming rate. Of particular concern is that approximately 68% of men are overweight/obese, yet are notoriously difficult to engage in weight loss programs, despite being more susceptible than women to adverse weight-related outcomes. There is a need to develop and evaluate obesity treatment programs that target and appeal to men. The primary aim of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of two relatively low intensity weight loss programs developed specifically for men.
Methods and design: The study design is an assessor blinded, parallel-group randomised controlled trial that recruited 159 overweight and obese men in Newcastle, Australia. Inclusion criteria included: BMI 25-40 (kg/m2); no participation in other weight loss programs during the study; pass a health-screening questionnaire and pre-exercise risk assessment; available for assessment sessions; access to a computer with e-mail and Internet facilities; and own a mobile phone. Men were recruited to the SHED-IT (Self-Help, Exercise and Diet using Internet Technology) study via the media and emails sent to male dominated workplaces. Men were stratified by BMI category (overweight, obese class I, obese class II) and randomised to one of three groups: (1) SHED-IT Resources - provision of materials (DVD, handbooks, pedometer, tape measure) with embedded behaviour change strategies to support weight loss; (2) SHED-IT Online - same materials as SHED-IT Resources plus access to and instruction on how to use the study website; (3) Wait-list Control. The intervention programs are three months long with outcome measures taken by assessors blinded to group allocation at baseline, and 3- and 6-months post baseline. Outcome measures include: weight (primary outcome), % body fat, waist circumference, blood pressure, resting heart rate, objectively measured physical activity, self-reported dietary intake, sedentary behaviour, physical activity and dietary cognitions, sleepiness, quality of life, and perceived sexual health. Generalised linear mixed models will be used to assess all outcomes for the impact of group (Resources, Online, and Control), time (treated as categorical with levels baseline, 3-months and 6-months) and the group-by-time interaction. These three terms will form the base model. 'Intention-to-treat' analysis will include all randomised participants.
Discussion: Our study will compare evidence-based and theoretically driven, low cost and easily disseminated strategies specifically targeting weight loss in men. The SHED-IT community trial will provide evidence to inform development and dissemination of sustainable strategies to reduce obesity in men.
Trial registration: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ACTRN12610000699066).