Women who partcipate in several programs on healthy eating are inspired to exercise and be physically active so as to offset weight gain as compared to those who just happen to get casual information about weight management and diet.
Two hundred and fifty adult women with an average age of 40 took part in the research. Women within the healthy weight range were included as well as overweight and obese women.
One group (intervention) of 127 women attended the HeLP-her programme which consisted of four one hour group sessions of 10-30 participants.
Simple messages about food intake and physical activity were discussed, as were behavioural strategies such as problem solving, relapse prevention, self-monitoring and personal goals.
The other group (control) consisted of 123 women who attended a lecture about healthy eating and the benefits of physical activity. No individual advice was given but participants were weighed and measured.
Both the groups were measured after 12 months.
The results show that on average the control group gained 0.83kg (nearly 2 pounds) and this was not seen in the intervention group. Participants in the control group who were less than 40 with a healthy body mass index gained the most weight (1.72kg or over 3.5 pounds).
In contrast, young participants in the intervention group lost around 0.27kg (half a pound).
After 12 months, the intervention group reported more vigorous physical activity than the control group. This group also had better results for tests linked to heart disease, such as cholesterol levels.
"Our findings suggest that excess weight gain in women may be prevented by using a low intensity community based programme that promotes self management and includes personal contact with ongoing remote support," said the researchers.
"The HeLP-her intervention potentially bridges the gap between intensive treatment programmes and broad population health strategies," they added.
The findings were published on bmj.com.