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Study Aims to Help People Lose Weight Using Everyday Technology


Researchers at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center are beginning a study exploring how interactive technology could help adults lose weight, especially those in underserved populations.

Dr. Karen Johnson

Choosing Healthy Activities and Lifestyle Management through Portal Support (CHAMPS) is a research study sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health. Karen Johnson, MD, MPH, professor and chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine in the UTHSC College of Medicine, is the principal investigator on the study.

Clinical practice guidelines recommend the combined use of diet, physical activity, and behavioral modification for weight loss in overweight and obese adults, but there are barriers to implementing these guidelines. The CHAMPS study will test whether a weight loss program delivered to underserved groups via interactive technology, including the internet, an electronic health record patient portal, and text and email messaging, will reduce barriers and result in significant weight loss. If effective, the method could provide a large health benefit at a relatively low cost.

In the United States, obesity disproportionally affects underserved population groups, such as racial and ethnic minorities, people with lower socioeconomic status, and those living in rural areas. These groups are also at increased risk for developing and dying from cancer.

“Obesity is an important risk factor for disease and death,” Dr. Johnson said. “Translating a very effective weight loss program into a more accessible delivery mode can make the program more widely available to the people of the Mid-South and hopefully prevent the adverse health problems that are caused by excess body weight.”

Over the next four years, a total of 250 people from the Memphis area will be enrolled into the CHAMPS study and followed for one year. Participants will be assigned to either an intervention group or a comparison group. All participants will receive informational counseling sessions on nutrition, physical activity, healthy lifestyles, and disease prevention via the study website and regular study contacts. Participants in the intervention group will also receive follow-up phone calls from a behavioral interventionist.

Two in-person study visits are required to determine eligibility. Participants must be Regional One Health patients who are age 16 or older, overweight or obese, and have access to the internet. If enrolled, there will be two in-person data collection visits. The weight loss program is provided at no cost to the participants.

In-person visits are conducted at 66 N. Pauline St. For more information, email champsstudy@uthsc.edu, call 901.448.4584, or visit www.champsstudy.uthsc.edu.