That's the good news from a study in the April 9 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The average weight loss achieved by the adults in this study is likely to reduce their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, which is the main cause of kidney failure, limb amputations and new onset blindness is adults. Type 2 diabetes is also a major cause of stroke and heart disease.
The Brown University Medical School-led study is the longest Internet weight-loss study to date. It began in September 2001 and included 92 adults. Their average age was 42 and they were all about 40 pounds overweight with two or more risk factors for Type 2 diabetes.
The study participants were randomly divided into two groups. The first group used a basic Internet weight-loss program that provided a tutorial on weight loss, a new tip and link each week, and a directory of Internet weight-loss resources. Each week, they received an e-mail reminder to submit their weight.
The second group had the same program and also received e-mail counseling with weight-loss therapists. The subjects in this group were told to report calorie and fat intake, exercise energy expenditure, and could direct questions or comments to the therapist.
The study found the people in the e-mail counseling group lost more than twice as much weight as those just using the basic Internet weight-loss program. At the end of a year, the people in the e-mail counseling group lost an average of 10 pounds while those in the basic program lost an average of 4 pounds.
The people in the e-mail counseling group also had greater increases in their exercise levels in the first three months of the study and a larger reduction in their consumption of fat calories over the course of the study.
In both groups, people who spent more time at the weight-loss Web site lost more weight.
"Internet behavioral programs may offer an alternative to more burdensome clinic programs. This study demonstrated Internet interventions could be used for longer periods of time, a necessary model for treatment of chronic diseases," study lead author Deborah F. Tate, assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown, says in a news release.
Here's where you can learn more about the dangers of obesity.