December 30, 2005 4:00 AM PST

Dieting in the digital age

You've finally polished off that delicious plate of Christmas cookies and fruitcake with a bottle of eggnog, just in time to start the new year with a post-holiday diet and fitness plan.

It might seem counterintuitive, but many dieters find that sitting in front of a computer and using the Internet helps them to keep those weight-loss resolutions. And then going to the gym, of course.

An About.com online survey of more than 1,500 adults found that losing weight is at the top of the list for nearly half of people who make New Year's resolutions. Of those, 42 percent said their best weight-loss tool will be the Web, where they participate in support groups, subscribe to online diet sites and gather other relevant information.

Connecting with the online community has helped April Cummins-Kohl shed 25 pounds since the summer. She logs on to weight loss Web site SparkPeople.com several times a day and spends hours each day on the free site.

"I find that I need that motivation from other people who are going through what I'm going through. People are writing you all the time," said Cummins-Kohl, of Surprise, Ariz.

"You learn how to do your portions. You learn how to make good choices with those foods and how to read labels, from the comfort of your own home," she said.

Caren, a blogger in Omaha, Neb., who uses only her first name, said she was planning to use SparkPeople.com to help her lose holiday weight.

"I'm starting Jan. 1 and will spend the next week finishing up Christmas goodies and gearing up mentally," she wrote on her blog. "I can't wait to get back into my clothes!!! I'm so sick of wearing the same pair of sweatpants over and over and over!!!"

At least one research study has found that, in some cases, online and e-mail support can be as effective as face-to-face counseling. The North American Association for the Study of Obesity Research published a study in which 255 healthy, overweight and obese adults were split into two groups: one that received in-person counseling and the other that received online support. The two groups achieved nearly identical weight loss after 18 months.

Weight loss is more than a matter of vanity; it has become a matter of health in the United States, where adult obesity has been steadily increasing since the late 1980s. About 64 percent of Americans are classified as overweight and more than 30 percent as obese by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

To help combat what the FDA called the "nation's obesity epidemic," the agency commissioned an official working group that released its findings last year.

The report said that being overweight or obese increases the risk of coronary heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. According to some estimates, at least 300,000 deaths each year may be attributed to obesity, the report said.

Frustrated at weighing 400 pounds, a California man took his weight-loss program to the streets. Steve Vaught, once known as "Fat Man Walking," left his home outside San Diego on April 10 for New York City and launched a Web site through which supporters can track his progress. He was in Rolla, Mo., this week, more than halfway through the route.

For those who prefer to stay closer to home, here is a sampling of weight-loss Web sites:

•  SparkPeople.com is a free Web site that provides personalized fitness programs, interactive meal plans and calorie counters, support message boards and other information and tools for losing weight.

• The FDA has a weight-loss Web page that links to information such as definitions of "obesity" and information on government approved obesity drug and surgery options for weight loss.

•  About.com's new New Year's resolution weight loss section features free e-courses, online newsletters, RSS feeds, expert advice, user blogs and other information.

•  Weight Watchers offers a Web site to provide online aids for people in their offline programs, as well as an online component for those who don't want to attend meetings. The site charges varying fees for many of its services.

•  The South Beach Diet offers information about the popular low-carbohydrate diet, as well as weight loss tools. The quarterly fee comes out to $5 a week.

•  Diet Talk.com is a free online support forum.

•  eDiets.com offers information about a wide range of diets and nutrition and fitness in general, as well as counseling and chat rooms, for a fee.

• Online calorie counter and exercise log My Food Diary.com enables users to calculate the calories and nutrients of daily meals and calories burned. It also offers motivational charts, reports and an online discussion forum for $9 month.

• Free To Be Thin.com, offers weight loss reviews, articles and tips at no cost.

• Another free site is FreeDieting.com, which has weight-loss tools and information written by dieters.

• ChaseFreedom.com says it's goal is to post diet reviews and information about "every known diet, pill and weight loss program."

15 comments

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Online Caloria Scale and Food Counter
A really cool site I'm using for my 2006 diet, since I've become a "mouse potato" (not a couch potato!) working at my desk all day -- is a site launched this past week, <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.WillandJill.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.WillandJill.com</a> -- these folks have a really cool thing where you can find any food item, and see not only its calorie content, but it can tell you how much exercise you need to do to work it off. Very cool.

They have a news announcement here:
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.send2press.com/newswire/2005-12-1228-007.shtml" target="_newWindow">http://www.send2press.com/newswire/2005-12-1228-007.shtml</a>
Posted by Neotrope (74 comments )
Reply Link Flag
oops... can't spell...
Too much coffee, not enough protein...
I can't even spell "calorie" right ... sheesh!
Posted by Neotrope (74 comments )
Link Flag
Online Calorie Scale and Food Counter
A really cool site I'm using for my 2006 diet, since I've become a "mouse potato" (not a couch potato!) working at my desk all day -- is a site launched this past week, <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.WillandJill.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.WillandJill.com</a> -- these folks have a really cool thing where you can find any food item, and see not only its calorie content, but it can tell you how much exercise you need to do to work it off. Very cool.

They have a news announcement here:
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.send2press.com/newswire/2005-12-1228-007.shtml" target="_newWindow">http://www.send2press.com/newswire/2005-12-1228-007.shtml</a>
Posted by Neotrope (74 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Good stuff
Hi, thanks, this is really useful! my main problem with dieting is that i lose motivation after i lose control and eat a bigmac (or two ;) ). they show exactly what i need to do to get back on track' :)

Good stuff!
Posted by JohnNewbank (1 comment )
Link Flag
The time of the year again
For the next 2 weeks the gym will be packed with a bunch of losers who had a new year resolution to lose weight,exercise etc etc.
The gym will be crowded, they will run out of towels, you won't be able to find a locker or treadmill that isn't being used.
Luckely this only last 2 weeks or so and then those poor people become couch potatoes again (I guess they got a free pass for 2 weeks because it's the same story every year)

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://otherthingsnow.blogspot.com/" target="_newWindow">http://otherthingsnow.blogspot.com/</a>
Posted by SqlserverCode (165 comments )
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WW worked for me
I used Weight Watchers Online because it didn't involve meetings or other nonsense. At it's core, it's just a fancy calorie/fat/fiber counter (points), but the database of food and such makes it really convenient. It was worth the money for me, after 25 pounds.
Posted by Jeff Putz (302 comments )
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Where's the Diet Software
This is c/net right? No one comment on diet software. I would LOVE to see a review on the top diet applications! I utilized DietPower... went from 230lbs... to 146lbs! Give us a story how PC-technology can benefit our lives!
Posted by karnbach (2 comments )
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Where are 3 Fat Chicks on a Diet?
This was an excellent article and the references were appreciated, though I'm surprised you didn't include one of the original and longest running free diet websites, www.3fatchicks.com I lost a considerable amount of weight with them years ago and still visit regularly to help me keep my weight off. Weight loss requires the right support system and tools, which I found at 3FC. I owe a lot to them, and am glad to spread the word whenever possible.
Posted by GingerR (1 comment )
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We also provide an amazing weight loss site at http://www.weight-loss-center.net . Anyone who is looking for weight loss, dieting, nutrition and health information is encouraged to visit our site. Weight Loss Center also has an active forum for discussion weight loss issues and a growing weight loss blog. Weight Loss Center is dedicated to providing a top-quality weight loss resource and will continue to help others lose weight in healthy ways for years to come.
Posted by GoingThin (1 comment )
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It really is amazing how many people make New Year's Resolutions. As a Personal Trainer, http://www.eCoachBiggi.com I get swamped starting right on January 1st. I swear the magic wears off just about three days later already.
I agree that motivation is one of the biggest factors when it comes to losing weight. Every time I try to lose weight, it takes me months to see any progress, and that's when it's really hard to stay motivated. When I do, it's definitely worth it.
Well, we are just about coming up to another New Year, and if you are making a resolution to lose weight check out my site where I review some of the most popular programs online: http://www.weightlossreviewsite.com
Posted by BiggiFraley (1 comment )
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The best way to lose some pounds is to use phentermine and a physical exerice system.
http://www.phentermineindex.com/
Posted by Sarahm197 (2 comments )
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You can find great <a href=http://flab2fab.hostei.com>diet and excercise tips</a> tips at http://flab2fab.hostei.com/
Posted by appbanker (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Oops. I meant you can find great diet and exercise tips at: http://flab2fab.hostei.com/blog/
Posted by appbanker (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This is really interesting. The idea of having to be accountable to someone is a well known tool used to help you meet your goals. It's interesting to see how the online social networking push is establishing strong enough relationships that they feel accountable to one another. I say as long as this method is helping people stay <a href="http://www.lean4life.net">lean for life</a> and live healthier lives it's a great thing.
Posted by jackie_d86 (11 comments )
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Well in my opinion healthy diet is the best solution for excessive weight and for that the first thing you need is the formula to calculate the amount of calories your body must get:
Women: BMR = 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age in years)
Men: BMR = 66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) - (6.8 x age in years)

Women: BMR = 655 + (9.6 x weight in kilos) + (1.8 x height in cm) - (4.7 x age in years)
Men: BMR = 66 + (13.7 x weight in kilos) + (5 x height in cm) - (6.8 x age in years)

now after that, you must decide how fast you want to loose weight. for me the formula result - 500 calories was perfect solution, but I think it's up to you.
for some more good stuff you can use this diet strategy: http://the1200caloriediet.com
Posted by dushash (1 comment )
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