Study to evaluate the effect of dietary advice and the role of exercise in obese women who are trying to lose weight

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Exercise should play an important part in any weight control programme and swimming/exercise in water has particular advantages for the obese individual. Since 1996 aquafit sessions for the obese have been available in Coventry as an optional adjunct to dietary intervention.


The study aimed to compare outcomes in two groups; one group had received individual dietary advice (GpDO) and the other group had received individual dietary advice and also attended aquafit sessions regularly (GpDAq). Characteristics of groups members were compared and perceived barriers to successful weight loss were considered.


The study looked retrospectively at a sample of obese women, aged 18-70 years, with a BMI (kg/m2) of over 35, referred by their general practitioners or consultants, for dietary advice for weight reduction. Participants were interviewed by a dietitian and researcher to gain data on long-term changes in weight, activity, and factors they felt had affected their weight changes. 76 women (54 in GpDO and 22 in GpDAq) were invited to participate in the study. Thirty attended for interview (25 in GpDO and five in GpDAq). The average time since first contact with dietitian to the review for this study (the study period) was 19 months (range 7-39 months).


The mean weight loss was 3.8 kg, SD = 5.5 (GpDO mean = 3.3 kg, SD = 4.9, and GpDAq mean = 6.2 kg, SD = 8.2). Two (7%) women (one in GpDO and one in GpDAq) reduced their weight by > 10% over the study period. Twenty-one (70%) participants (68% of GpDO and 80% of GpDAq) did not gain weight over the study period (initial weight > study weight). Nine (30%) participants increased their physical activity by one episode of 30 min per week and maintained this over the study period.


The desire of many clients for long-term support and continuity of care from a dietitian was highlighted, as were the perceived difficulties in increasing physical activity. This study demonstrates that weight management interventions that provide dietary advice with and without exercise can help some women to achieve moderate weight loss and maintain this, highlighting areas for further consideration.

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