Seeking Help from a Health Coach May Help You Achieve Weight Loss, New Study Reveals

Rebecca Lewis November 21, 2019

 Most athletes have coaches to help them improve their performance in the field. No football team goes to the court without a coach. In sports, coaching has been proven to contribute to one’s success. Could it be a good way to support weight loss too?

Obesity is among the world’s leading health concerns. In the UK, the number of overweight people has significantly increased in the past years. It is estimated that 60.8% of adults and 31.1% of children in Britain are overweight. There are also 30,000 people who die prematurely due to weight-related diseases. Some experts believe that obesity leads to more illnesses than smoking. Being fat increases one’s risk of diabetes, indigestion, stress, high blood pressure, some cancers, and other serious diseases. In a study by the National Audit Office, it is estimated that obesity costs the NHS at least £500m a year.

Health Coaching and Weight Loss

In a randomised controlled study, researchers from Miriam Hospital’s Weight Control and Diabetes Research Centre looked into the effects of health coaching in losing weight. They recruited 44 people to take part in a group behavioural weight loss program. The participants met 12 times over the course of 24 weeks.

The participants were randomly assigned to work with three different types of health coaches – a peer (a group member), a professional, and a mentor who has been a successful weight loser. When there were no group meetings, participants emailed their health coaches to report their weekly weight measure, calorie intake, physical activities, and the like. In turn, the coaches evaluate their progress and give feedback.

The researchers found a significant improvement in the weight loss goals of the study participants who were coached by a professional, peer, and mentor. However, among the three, the groups trained by peer and professional coaches had the most improvement. At least half of them achieved a 10% reduction in their weight while only 17% of the mentor group had the same result.

Conventional treatments for obesity include diet and exercise, medication, and medical procedures like liposuction. Health coaching can be a cost-effective weight loss obesity treatment strategy, said Tricia M. Leahey, Ph.D., study lead author. Although the findings are just preliminary, health coaching offers a less intensive, low-cost behavioural intervention that can help people achieve their weight loss goals.

How can a health coach help you?t

Health coaching is geared towards helping you change unwanted behaviours for the better. Firstly, a health coach lets you visualise success. How much exactly do you want to take off from your weight? Do you see yourself as a sexy and fit individual? After visualising, you’re now ready to take action. A health coach looks at your current lifestyle and tells you what factors hinder you from losing weight. He or she also suggests different techniques you can try to achieve your fitness goals. Lastly, a health coach keeps you motivated until you see the results of your hard work.