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Community weight loss challenges

Health Factors: Diet & Exercise
Decision Makers: Employers & Businesses Nonprofit Leaders
Evidence Rating: Expert Opinion
Population Reach: 20-49% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: No impact on disparities likely

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Description

Community weight loss challenges are temporary programs that aim to energize participating community members to lose weight. Weight loss challenges can be designed as healthy lifestyle education programs, sports competitions between teams, charity donation drives, or faith-based initiatives. Weight loss challenges are typically multi-component interventions that include education, weight status and food intake tracking, regular check-ins, and group support. At the end of the challenge, there are often prizes awarded to the individuals or teams who lost the most weight.

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Increased physical activity
Improved nutrition
Improved weight status

Evidence of Effectiveness

Community weight loss challenges are a suggested strategy to increase physical activity, improve nutrition, and increase weight loss (AHRQ HCIE-Kumar). Available evidence suggests that community weight loss challenges that offer group support and weekly check-ins, use food log diaries or online tracking and performance feedback, and last at least 3-4 months can result in behavior change and weight loss for communities as a whole (Jensen 2013, Damore 2010, AHRQ HCIE-Kumar). Case studies suggest that education regarding nutrition, portion control, physical activity, weight maintenance, and long-term wellness are important components of these challenges (Jensen 2013, Damore 2010, Carter-Edwards 2009). Additional evidence is needed to confirm effects, especially studies that report weight changes at the individual level. 

Implementation

United States

Communities can choose to implement weight loss challenges on their own or can join statewide efforts. For example, in Rhode Island the Shape Up RI program hosts two 12-week competitive challenges each year (AHRQ HCIE-Kumar). For-profit groups such as ShapeUp have resources for community weight loss challenges (ShapeUp). In many areas across the country, participants can also pay a fee to join a community weight loss challenge program; for example teams pay $20 per person to join Live Healthy America (LHA).

Implementation Resources

CDPHE-Villamaria 2010 - Villamaria A, Knudsen K, Spence J, et al. Colorado worksites: Resources and tools for implementing wellness. Denver: Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE); 2010. Accessed on January 11, 2016

Citations - Evidence

AHRQ HCIE-Kumar - Kumar R, LaFayette J. Shape Up RI: Statewide, team-based fitness program uses online social networking and competition to promote exercise and weight loss in adults. Rockville: AHRQ Health Care Innovations Exchange. Accessed on March 1, 2016
Carter-Edwards 2009 - Carter-Edwards L, Bastian LA, Schultz M, Amamoo MA, Østbye T. An internet-based weight loss intervention initiated by a newspaper. Preventing Chronic Disease. 2009;6(3):A101. Accessed on November 27, 2015
Damore 2010* - Damore JF. Weighing in on long-term change: Community weight-loss challenge empowers thousands to make healthy choices. Healthcare Executive. 2010;25(1):56, 58-9. Accessed on December 8, 2015
Jensen 2013 - Jensen KD. Organizing a community 'biggest loser' weight loss challenge. Journal of Extension. 2013;51(2):2009-13. Accessed on February 17, 2016

Citations - Implementation

AHRQ HCIE-Kumar - Kumar R, LaFayette J. Shape Up RI: Statewide, team-based fitness program uses online social networking and competition to promote exercise and weight loss in adults. Rockville: AHRQ Health Care Innovations Exchange. Accessed on March 1, 2016
LHA - Live Healthy America (LHA). 10-Week wellness challenge. Accessed on November 9, 2015
ShapeUp - ShapeUp. Overview of our products: Fitness & nutrition challenges. Accessed on March 1, 2016

Page Last Updated

June 10, 2015

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