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Community programmes prevent weight gain

Women who attend programmes with ongoing support about healthy eating are less likely to gain weight and be more physically active than women who receive a one-off information session on dietary guidelines, finds an Australian study published on today.

Health problems related to obesity are major issues in developed countries. In Australia 60% of adults are overweight or obese. The World Health Organization has recommended that weight management initiatives should include efforts to try and help adults from gaining weight, even if they are in an acceptable range.

The study investigated whether women who attended the HeLP-her community lifestyle programme gained more or less weight than women who attended a single 30-minute group lecture about the benefits of following dietary and physical activity guidelines.

Women of reproductive age are an important target group, says the study, as they are prone to weight gain and they also have a strong influence on what their partners and children eat.

In conclusion, the researchers say: "Our findings suggest that excess weight gain in women may be prevented by using a low-intensity community based programme that promotes self-management and includes personal contact with ongoing remote support."

They add: "The HeLP-her intervention potentially bridges the gap between intensive treatment programmes and broad population health strategies."