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WELLINGTON (Reuters Life!) - Nurses are just as effective as more costly dieticians in helping people who have lost weight to keep the pounds off, a study shows.
Researchers at New Zealand's University of Otago monitored 200 women, some of whom took part in a nurse-led weight loss support program and others a more expensive, intensive program with dieticians and exercise specialists.
The women, aged between 25 and 70, had already lost five percent or more of their body weight and were followed for two years after that.
All participants received nutritional counseling, but the nurse-led group received weigh-in visits every two weeks, and on alternate weeks, they received a phone call from the same nurse to discuss progress.
The study showed that while attendance at the nurse-led weigh-ins was excellent, attendance at exercise classes in the intensive programs was poor and became even less over time.
Many participants reported that the weigh-ins and the enthusiastic support provided by the nurse on those occasions and on the telephone were key determinants of their success, said Professor Jim Mann, from the university's Edgar National Center for Diabetes Research.
"It appears that regular face-to-face interaction with a supportive health professional is a key success factor."
The study concludes that nurse-led programs with weekly or bi-weekly weigh-ins could be easily introduced in many countries at a fraction of the cost of intensive-support programs.
The study is published in Canadian Medical Association Journal (www.cmaj.ca).
Writing by Miral Fahmy; Editing by Bill Tarrant