Lifestyle coaches motivate overweight people to live healthier
Overweight patients who are counselled by a lifestyle coach will eventually move more, eat a lot healthier and suffer less from the dreaded yo-yo effect. This is shown in research by Maastricht University (UM), in collaboration with Tilburg University and Dutch health insurance company CZ. For two years, the researchers followed a group of more than 350 patients who came to a lifestyle coach. Today, they present their final report (in Dutch).
Not only people with obesity participated in the study, but also overweight people with an increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases or high blood pressure. The patients in the study participated in group sessions and received individual coaching. After two years, it now appears that the lifestyle coach indeed helped these people to live healthier.
“They know how to change the behaviour”, says UM PhD candidate Celeste van Rinsum. “People started eating healthier, exercising more, feeling fitter and more energetic.” On average, the participants permanently dropped 2.2 kilos.
This is the first time that the approach of a lifestyle coach has been scientifically researched. An important difference from other professionals is that lifestyle coaches let people decide for themselves how they want to change their lives.
“They help the patients to become motivated”, says Van Rinsum. “And instead of changing their lifestyles all at once, these patients take small steps to change the behaviour.” Now that the researchers have shown that this method can make an effective contribution in the fight against obesity, chances are that lifestyle coaches will be covered by basic insurance from next year, predicts Van Rinsum.