By Zirconia Alleyne
If losing weight is one of your 2018 resolutions, joining a collaborative weight-loss program might be the way to go.
Healthy Families, Healthy Forces is looking for adult family members of active-duty or retired personnel to participate in the next two-year cycle of its free weight-loss study.
Organized by Tufts University and the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, the study seeks to give military families tools to lose weight the healthy way and to maintain that weight loss.
Group classes, which are set up as live online broadcasts, will teach participants about healthy meal planning, grocery shopping, monitoring weight and activity.
Study coordinator Ed Martin said the program is two years long; however, it is designed to be accessible via mobile devices so participants can still participate if they PCS to a new location.
“It’s a really convenient program,” he said. “All they have to do is sign in online.”
Participants will be placed in one of two study tracks, each focusing on weight maintenance and nutrition, with research dieticians and counselors Amy Krauss and Amy Taetzsch.
Krauss said both weight-loss tracks are created from successful weight-loss research.
“There’s no supplements or gimmicks,” she noted. “The weight loss comes from learning nutrition and behavior modification.”
Taetzsch chimed in that participants will get all the resources, including a free scale, they need in order to continue the program after the two-year cycle is up.
“Yes, we teach you how and what to eat, but if you don’t know how to recreate that, then it’s not going to be sustainable,” Taetzsch said. “We focus on long-term success.”
Dr. Sai Das of Tufts University has been a part of Healthy Families, Healthy Forces since its inception in 2015. Das said there’s a lot done for the soldier’s dietary needs, but the Army recognized the spouse or dependents play a role in nutrition as well.
“We looked at the prevalence of obesity in this population, and there are unique stressors in military families,” Das said. “We had done some focus groups and we identified that military families would be great to work with. (This weight-loss study is) a great way to prepare the warfighter but also the person that’s supporting the home environment.”
Das said over the years, the program has expanded to other Army posts and become more mobile to accommodate relocations.
The team of experts will visit Fort Campbell in January to meet with current participants.
Martin noted that participants will have five in-person meet-ups. The first when they register and learn about the program and the second in-person meeting is right before the first class. The additional check-ins will be at the six-, 12- and 24-month marks. Check-ins can also be done with their primary care physician.
During their visit next month, Martin said they are hoping to get a new class of participants signed up for the next two-year cycle, which the team plans to start in February.
Anyone who would like to sign up can call Martin at 617-556-3143 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The program is free, and participants will receive a $400 stipend for participating.
Study progress at Fort Campbell:
Currently, Healthy Families, Healthy Forces has three groups of participants who have started at Fort Campbell. Two of these groups will be approaching the one-year mark in January while the other will be at their six-month time point. Below are some testimonials from participants:
“I enjoy trying new recipes and spices, the online meeting convenience, the small group meetups and support from fellow group members, a terrific leader’s support and the program being so thoroughly researched. I’ve had two doctors ask for information on the study after I’ve explained it and they’ve seen my results.”
“Having weekly sessions have given me a support group that I think is important for long term success. We are able to share our experiences, tips that work, recipes and ideas. Having someone that we can email with questions and concerns is also very important. I know that if I stick with this program I will be a healthier person and with two years in the program, I will be able to maintain that healthiness and pass it on to my family.”
“I feel like I’m finally armed with the right information that is not a fad, gimmick or temporary fix. This program is for life and requires a little effort and self discipline.”
“The program has changed my life and my family’s!…. I love the online meetings. They are so easy to attend, no worries regarding weather, time of day, or work schedule. It has been a great way to share ideas and learn new practices. I feel confident that I will be in control of my weight and not my weight controlling me!”
“This study has changed my life. I am very grateful for all you guys have done for not only me but my whole family! (Even extended family and friends!)