Perri points to another UF study that he co-authored that tracked 298 obese adults in six counties using cooperative extension as the venue for treatment. "We taught the extension agents how do to standard lifestyle behavioral treatment programs. We also were interested in how do we get people to maintain the changes that they have made," he says.
"We were able to produce weight losses that were equivalent or even better than those seen in diabetes prevention programs."
In the second phase of the study, the researchers randomized people for different follow-up care programs, either by mail, by telephone, or face-to-face. "We were particularly interested in effectiveness and cost effectiveness," Perri says.
"We showed the follow-up programs that were face-to-face or by telephone were significantly better than the follow-up by mail. That suggests that once we get people to lose weight we may be able to help them sustain it without having them come in for additional sessions other than telephone follow-up sessions."
Perri says related studies have demonstrated effectiveness in educational nutrition with just the parent rather than the entire family. "Particularly for school-age children, the parents often are the gatekeepers of food preparation and intake. We found you can get equal effectiveness whether the parents are alone or have the kids come in as well," he says.