(HealthDay News) — Interactive computer-based weight loss and weight maintenance interventions are more effective than no or minimal interventions, but are less effective than in-person treatment, according to a systematic review published online Aug. 15 in The Cochrane Library.

To evaluate the effectiveness of interactive computer-based weight interventions for weight loss or weight maintenance in overweight or obese adults, L. Susan Wieland, Ph.D., of the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues reviewed 14 weight loss studies involving a total of 2,537 participants, and four weight maintenance studies involving 1,603 participants.

The researchers found that, at six months, compared with minimal intervention, computer-based interventions led to greater weight loss (mean difference [MD], −1.5 kg) and were also superior in limiting weight regain (MD, −0.7 kg). However, the computer-based intervention resulted in less weight loss than in-person treatment (MD, 2.1 kg) and was not superior to infrequent in-person treatment for limiting weight regain (MD, 0.5 kg). One recent study calculated the cost-effectiveness ratio of weekly in-person weight loss intervention compared to a computer-based intervention in active duty military personnel to be $7,177 to $60,291 per life-year gained, but it was unclear whether this could be extrapolated to other studies.

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“Compared to in-person interventions, interactive computer-based interventions result in smaller weight losses and lower levels of weight maintenance,” the authors write. “The amount of additional weight loss, however, is relatively small and of brief duration, making the clinical significance of these differences unclear.”

One author is developing and testing a Web-based weight loss program.

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