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Phone coaching helps weight loss, evaluation finds


22 November 2012

The coaching service sees participants receive up to 10 calls over six months. [Image: NSW Department of Health]
The coaching service sees participants receive up to 10 calls over six months. [Image: NSW Department of Health]

An innovative NSW health service featuring coaching sessions conducted over the phone is an effective health promotion intervention, a University of Sydney evaluation has shown.

"The Get Healthy Service is making substantial improvements to the chronic disease risk factor profile of people in the community and, importantly, has succeeded in being used by those who need it the most," said Professor Adrian Bauman, from the University's School of Public Health.

Professor Adrian Bauman and Dr Philayrath Phongsavan lead the Prevention Research Collaboration at the University and conducted the evaluation of the free service.

"Over half the participants lost between 2.5 and 10 percent of their initial body weight, enough to make a health difference," said Professor Bauman.

Participants in the six-month coaching program lost on average 4 kilograms and 5 centimetres from their waist, and these improvements were maintained six months after completing the program.

There was a higher involvement of people from disadvantaged backgrounds and from regional locations than predicted, based on their population numbers.

"We know that these groups are less likely to access health services and more likely to have a greater chance of chronic disease because of their lifestyle risk factors," said Professor Bauman.

The Get Healthy Information and Coaching Service was launched by the NSW Government in 2009. The telephone service is described as helping adults make "sustained improvements in healthy eating, physical activity and achieving or maintaining a healthy weight".

Almost 20,000 people have taken part in the program. They are advised to make lifestyle changes such as increasing their daily serves of fruit and vegetables and decreasing the amount of sugary drinks and takeaway meals they consume. They are also encouraged to walk more and undertake more moderate intensity and vigorous intensity activity.

The coaching service sees participants receive up to 10 calls over six months.

The Get Healthy Service evaluation is funded by the NSW Ministry of Health.


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