Volunteers sought for UBC-Okanagan weight program study

Clinical study seeks participants to explore effectiveness of a popular program

UPDATE: Due to overwhelming response, the positions for this study have now been filled.

If you’ve been considering different options in your goal to reach a healthier weight, a brand new study through the University of British Columbia-Okanagan may let you do it for free!

Dr. Lesley Lutes, Director of Clinical Training in the Psychology Department, is one of the principle investigators in a 12-month study exploring the effectiveness of Weight Watchers’ Freestyle. In addition to the Canadian site, the $1.7 million, Weight Watchers International-funded study also includes participants in the U.S. and United Kingdom.

For the UBC-Okanagan study, approved participants will be randomly assigned into two groups – one undertaking the Weight Watchers Freestyle program, the other a “DIY” group that will work to lose weight and improve fitness on their own, using a general health and fitness guide provided by the study team, explains research assistant Chloe Briggs.

Following the conclusion of the study, the DIY group will also receive a full-year membership plan for Weight Watchers.

Either way, “they’ll get the Weight Watchers program absolutely free,” Briggs says.

What is Weight Watchers Freestyle?

Building on Weight Watchers’ SmartPoints system, every food and drink has a value – one easy-to-use number based on calories, saturated fat, sugar and protein. Freestyle participants receive a SmartPoints budget that nudges them into making healthier eating choices, while staying satisfied and seeing weight-loss results, Weight Watchers explains.

Zero-points foods include lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, providing a foundation from which to build a healthy pattern of eating without imposing a great risk of overeating, so it’s easier to pay attention to when you feel satisfied.

Interested? Here’s what you need to know:

• To be considered for the study, participants must be between the ages of 18 and 75 and have a BMI (Body Mass Index) between 25 to 45.

• They must have access to Weight Watchers meetings in their area and be able to attend four sessions at the Okanagan university. The first two visits will take place this July/August before the study begins in September. Two additional assessment sessions will be held 3 months and 12 months after the study’s start date. Three of the four sessions will involve testing factors such as weight, BMI, flexibility and aerobic stamina.

• Visit www.weightlosstrial.org for an initial online screening to see if you qualify, Briggs says.

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