Skip to main content

Functional Imagery training as a personalized e-health intervention for weight loss

Why is this research needed?

In England, over half the adult population is overweight with obesity and physical inactivity costing a yearly estimate of £11.4 billion. Both are a danger to patients when chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes develop as a result.

Many of the problems and potential costs of long term management of obesity could be reduced by a sustained weight loss of 5-10% of bodyweight. Technology has the potential to help people make changes to their lifestyle lose weight. However there is a need for personalized motivational support to sustain long-term behaviour change.

Method

We are going to test and advance the effectiveness of a personalized e-health intervention for weight loss, called Functional Imagery Training (FIT), developed by David Kavanagh (Queensland University of Technology), Jackie Andrade and Jon May (Plymouth University). FIT is a novel treatment that applies theoretical and empirical advances on the nature of motivation and craving to the problem of weight management.

FIT has been trialled, supported by a smartphone app, for reducing alcohol misuse in Australia, with David Kavanagh at QUT. In line with the MRC guidance on complex interventions, this project will complete the feasibility and pilot stages of developing FIT as an intervention for obesity. We have already collected pilot data on two important elements of weight management, namely snacking on high calorie foods and sweetened drinks, and physical activity.

Three pilot studies show that half an hour of FIT reduced snacking over two weeks relative to advice alone, that it increased exercise frequency and duration in gym members compared with gym membership and monitoring alone, and that it increased physical activity relative to motivational interviewing.

The first two phases of this project will test the feasibility of the intervention by testing the acceptability of the FIT for the target population and working closely with the sample to develop supporting materials and technology that are person-centred and specific to the problem of motivating better weight management. The third phase will be a pilot study to test the efficacy of FIT in an overweight sample, allow estimation of effect size, recruitment, drop out and compliance prior to bidding for funding for a full RCT.

We hope that hope FIT will help patients lose weight long-term and motivate them to exercise more frequently.

Publications

Solbrig L, Jone R, Kavanagh D, May J, Parkin T, Andrade J (2017). People trying to lose weight dislike calorie counting apps and want motivational support to help them achieve their goals. Internet Interventions 7:23-31

 

For more information, please read the project proposal. If you’d like to learn more, please contact Linda Solbrig via Email

Upcoming Events

Jul
02

Searching and Review Clinic

South Cloisters 2.35, St Luke's Campus, University of Exeter

These clinics have been set up to help the PenCLAHRC Evidence Synthesis Team to manage and respond...
More information

Jul
02

PPI Advice Clinic

South Cloisters, St Luke's Campus, University of Exeter

Patient and Public Involvement Advice Clinics Held every month 30 minutes between 12pm-1pm Whatever your query, from...
More information

Calendar

News

Professor Tamsin Ford awarded CBE for services to psychiatry

17 June 2019

Tamsin Ford, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Exeter Medical School...
Read more

Leading Plymouth University Dementia champion awarded British Empire Medal

10 June 2019

Ian Sherriff, Academic Partnership Lead for Dementia at the University of Plymouth and founder member...
Read more

How to improve outcomes for children and young people with long term conditions – the evidence is in

05 June 2019

Children and young people suffering with long term physical conditions can find anxiety and depression...
Read more

News

Research Projects

Social Prescribing - Understanding what works in, and supporting provision of, nature - based therapeutic interventions for people with an identifiable mental illness

Theme: Healthy People, Healthy Environments

We have been awarded funding from DEFRA to identify what works in the use of...
Read more

Social Prescribing - Cornwall and Plymouth Researcher in Residence

Theme: Healthy People, Healthy Environments

Evaluation work by a Researcher in Residence to assess implementation, reach, scope and acceptability of...
Read more

Research Projects