Changes to dietary intake during a 12-week commercial web-based weight loss program: a randomized controlled trial

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014 Jan;68(1):64-70. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2013.194. Epub 2013 Oct 16.


Background/objectives: The primary aim of this secondary analysis was to compare changes in dietary intake among participants randomized to two versions of a 12-week commercial web-based weight loss program (basic or enhanced) with a waiting-list control. An additional investigation compared changes in dietary intake of successful participants (weight loss ≥5%) with those not successful.

Subjects/methods: Dietary intake was assessed at baseline and 12 weeks using a validated 120-item semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire. Adults (n=268, 60% female participants, body mass index 32.1 ± 3.9) classified as plausible reporters of energy intake were included in the analyses. Analysis of covariance with baseline observations carried forward for drop-outs (n=38) was used.

Results: The basic and enhanced groups significantly increased their percentage of energy contribution from fruits and reduced energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods compared with controls (P<0.001). Successful participants (n=49) reported superior improvements in dietary intake including greater reductions in the mean daily energy intake (P<0.001), the percentage of energy from energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods (-12.0% E vs -4.3% E, P<0.001) and greater increases in the energy contribution from fruits (P<0.001), vegetables (P=0.003) and breads/cereals (P=0.02).

Conclusions: Use of a commercial web-based weight loss program facilitated some improvements in the dietary intake. The enhanced web-based tools appeared not to have generated greater improvements in reported dietary intake, compared with the basic or control groups. Those who achieved a weight loss of ≥5% improved their dietary intake in line with the program recommendations and dietary guidelines. Further research to determine web-based components that may improve success and the reasons why programs are successful for some participants is required.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Energy Intake*
  • Female
  • Fruit
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Policy
  • Obesity / diet therapy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vegetables
  • Weight Loss
  • Weight Reduction Programs*
  • Young Adult