A comprehensive overview and evaluation of a community-based obesity prevention and treatment program: Exercise psychology in practice

Sam Zizzi, West Virginia University, USA

Theme: Exercise and health behaviors

Program ID: SYM-07

Presentation: October 3, 2013 8:15 am - 9:30 am

Room: Jasperwood


This symposium will review data related to an innovative insurance benefit designed to prevent and treat obesity. The West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency’s Weight Management Program (WMP) is designed to provide the support and professional services necessary for individuals to adopt and maintain healthy eating and regular exercise. The program is a collaborative effort between a state-funded university and a state-funded health insurance provider, and serves as viable, funded training ground for the research and practice of exercise psychology. The WMP is provided to over 1000 participants per year across 60 fitness and rehabilitation centers in West Virginia. The two-year program includes fitness center access, personal training, dietary services and behavioral counseling for a $20 monthly co-payment. This topic seems well suited for the AASP conference as it links closely to the conference theme of lifelong physical and mental well-being. All data was collected by CITI trained researchers after IRB approval. The first presentation will provide a detailed description of how the partnership with the insurance agency evolved and the current structure of the intervention program. Program outcomes will be presented, based on the RE-AIM framework (Belza, Toobert, & Glasgow, 2007), including data related to overall participation and adherence rates, weight loss and physical activity patterns, and changes in mental and physical health status. The second presentation will focus on a qualitative study of lessons learned by participants in their interactions during the program with registered dieticians, fitness professionals, and health behavior counselors. The final presentation will review outcome data related to long-term weight loss maintenance after program participation. In the end, the findings from this program will be discussed to further the development of exercise psychology as a career path with fundable research and applied opportunities.

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