Online support helping fight obesity and chronic disease
Our online weight-loss support programme is impacting lives across the UK to reduce risks of a range of health problems.
The POWeR website provides a cost-effective and efficient solution to support wight loss in obese adults
A partnership approach has extended the website’s reach to around two million people
POWeR has been made part of the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme and the National Diabetes Education Programme
Obesity affects over one-in-four UK adults. It is the leading cause of avoidable early death, driving diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke and depression. The ideal way of tackling it is by offering weight loss support in person, but the NHS cannot provide that for all of those needing help.
Our POWeR (Positive Online Weight Reduction) website offers a way forward. It supports personalised weight loss and has reduced disease risk, cut costs, and is valued by patients and NHS staff alike.
Design that supports healthy behaviour
POWeR was built using our BRC LifeGuide software. LifeGuide allows researchers to easily create and test websites to support healthy behaviour. Users of LifeGuide websites can get tailored advice that fits their different needs. That’s sustained through follow-up messages that match how their needs change over time.
POWeR’s design and content was shaped using the BRC’s Person-Based Approach. This combines behaviour change science with input from lots of users at every stage. It results in websites that are simple and helpful for a wide range of people (published here).
Trials of POWeR showed that people lost enough weight to cut their disease risk. Achieved with minimal phone or email contact, it required was easy to resource (published here and here). That made its potential clear to Local Health Authorities and the NHS.
Partnering with these organisations, POWeR was made available to two million people. We went on to develop a mobile-friendly version of POWeR with a private company.
National diabetes prevention
POWeR is now part of the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme, used by 4,000 patients nationally. That will rise to 12,000 patients over 5 years. NHS England has also adopted it to support those already living with diabetes. As the weight management part of the National Diabetes Education Programme, it will be shared with 600,000 people through to 2025.
Our future work will adapt POWeR to support weight loss in a range of other health problems, using a new version of LifeGuide. These include high blood pressure, asthma, dementia and recovery from cancer. We will also develop POWeR’s physical activity support. Focussing on older people, we will help them be more active. Working with the NHS nationwide we aim to sustain wellbeing, reducing reduce frailty and disability.