A Decade of Tech, Part 3

As we saw yesterday, personal contact is a powerful key in any self-improvement system. Often, someone attempting to make a serious change needs gym buddies to share workout tips and practice mutual encouragement with — or maybe even a personal life coach. It seems fairly common for a human to crave feedback of some kind, at some level.

Ten years ago, lots of devices had already been invented for or adapted to weight-loss purposes. Here is a typical paragraph, from a 2013 piece by Corey Radman about a Colorado health center:

Because so many of Harmony’s new clients are young adults, [a staff member] explains that they provide Kindles for patients to use for their inpatient homework. “Even Power Point is a little passe for these young adults. This way, we are touching them the way they want to learn.” They have also written a smart-phone app for graduating clients to check in daily with their counselors after they leave.

A contemporary article attested to the usefulness of personal contact in what was termed an intensive lifestyle intervention, namely “conference calls by primary care provider staff.” At a New York state university clinic, professionals were trained to facilitate two types of phone situations, either one-on-one discussions, or conference calls with as many as 8 individuals. They were all pre-diabetic or metabolic syndrome patients who needed to lose weight.

This went on for two years, while the study authors kept track of patient weight status at the 6-, 12-, and 24-month marks. After one year, the individual call and conference call patients were pretty much even. But by the two-year mark…,” conference call participants had lost more weight and continued to lose weight compared to those receiving individual calls.”

At that landmark, patients in the individual call group tended to start regaining weight. Why? It may have simply been that they would have benefited more from an extended support system. According to the article,

The conference call educators were trained to promote discussion among the group and group members shared weight loss strategies within a supportive environment.

Of course, people thrive on individual attention. The original Freudian model of psychotherapy was one psychiatrist to one patient, in privacy. In the 1960s, group therapy became a popular mental health scenario, especially among younger people trying to sort out their relationships with drugs and each other.

As much as a person can benefit from individual, intense personal attention and counseling from a single practitioner, it seems that the community devoted to mutual help is also a powerful setting that can, in the long run, be even more effective.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Addiction Recovery Enters a New Era,” Issuu.com, 2013
Source: “Losing weight over the phone,” AlphaGalileo.org, 07/09/13
Image by JourneyPure Rehab/CC BY 2.0

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Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

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The Book

OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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