Successful weight loss may be just a podcast away.
But what's on that podcast could make the difference between losing a modest amount of weight and losing next to none, according to a new study out of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Researchers used two different types of podcasts--audio files that can be downloaded into an MP3 player or computer--to see which was more effective at helping 78 overweight and obese men and women shed pounds over 12 weeks.
The study participants were randomly divided into two groups. The control group listened to a popular weight loss podcast currently on the market, and the study group listened to a weight loss podcast designed by the researchers and based on social cognitive theory, the belief that some learning can come from emulating the behavior of those we want to emulate. The control podcast focused on making cognitive changes to combat overeating and included ideas such as positive thinking to alter one's body image.
The other "enhanced" podcast told participants what to expect from trying to lose weight and offered nutrition and exercise information that stressed the importance of achieving a healthy weight. The men and women in this group also tuned in to hear the audio journal of someone else trying to lose weight, but who was a week or two ahead of the study participants in terms of progress. This gave them someone on whom they could model their behavior.
After three months, the study group lost an average 6.4 pounds and one point in their body mass index. The control group lost an average of 0.7 pounds and lost 0.1 BMI point. The study group also ate more fruits and vegetables than the control group. Although both groups reported about the same amount of moderate exercise, the study group reported more vigorous activity. The study group also scored higher in weight loss knowledge scores.
Researchers believe such podcasts could be an inexpensive tool in the arsenal to combat obesity. One study participant said the podcasts were "fundamental in producing what I believe is a permanent change in my lifestyle," according to a news release.
The study appears online in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
-- Jeannine Stein
Photo credit: Ian Waldie / Getty Images