Dr. Mark Wilson Awarded Grant for Weight Management Study

Dr. Mark Wilson, the head of the Department of Health Promotion and Behavior at the University of Georgia College of Public Health, has received a grant to test variations of a Diabetes Prevention Program in workplace settings. The $3 million, five-year grant will fund a six-month weight management program aimed at reducing caloric intake and bolstering physical activity.

This study, which will be funded by the National Institute of Health and the National Institute of Diabetes and Kidney Diseases, will utilize three types of intervention – telephone coaching with a supportive manual, group coaching with a supportive manual and the supportive manual alone. With health costs steadily rising over the past 30 years, Wilson said it’s going to become increasingly important for employers to identify ways to promote healthier lifestyles as a means of saving money.

“Simply put, if you’re overweight, you’re going to face a whole host of health challenges,” he said. “You likely will have to go to the doctor more often, and you might be taking a lot of medicines. You’re likely to be in the hospital more regularly and deal with heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other health issues. All of this can become very expensive.”

Two city/county governments – Athens-Clarke County and Columbus-Muscogee County – have agreed to participate in the survey, and Dr. Wilson said he is hoping to identify a third local government to work with by the end of 2011.

To gauge the prevention program’s effectiveness, Wilson said the study will monitor each participant’s Body Mass Index (BMI), and track whether or not participants adopt healthy eating patterns and exercise regularly. Facilitators will collect data at the baseline of the study, at the time of its completion and six months after its conclusion.

Posted October 3, 2011.