09:30am Wednesday 13 December 2017

Online tool combats chronic disease

The team from QUT’s Institute for Health and Biomedical Innovation has developed the health program to combat chronic disease risk factors for mature women.

It uses web and mobile technologies to help women over 40 make lifestyle changes that reduce their risk of developing cancer, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stress-related conditions.

Unlike some existing weight loss programs, the QUT program is based on hard evidence and targets a much wider range of lifestyle aspects including sleep, stress management, waistline measurements, smoking and alcohol intake.

“Our research shows women are so overwhelmed by the constant barrage of false and conflicting information about weight loss and exercise that they really don’t know how to even begin to change habits,” said women’s health expert Professor Debra Anderson.

“When they do make changes, they tend to fixate on weight loss but then revert to their unhealthy habits within four to six week, undoing all that hard work.

“We’ve cut through the myths and lies to build a 12-week program that arms women with the scientific research and evidence-based strategies that are proven to reduce their risk factors for chronic disease and menopausal symptoms.

“The focus of this program is on empowering women to make incremental and realistic lifestyle changes they can sustain for the rest of their life.”

The Women’s Wellness Program combines online tracking and journaling with educational materials and optional Skype consultations with health professionals to set goals and discuss options.

A previous paper-based version of the program proved highly successful.

Five years later, every participant had maintained a higher exercise level, a lower weight, a smaller waistline and a lower smoking rate.

The QUT team has recruited more than 100 women from across Australia to trial the updated web-based program.

“We understand how difficult it can be for women to mind their own health while juggling work and family, which is why we want to see if an online program will be equally as effective,” said Amanda McGuire from QUT’s Faculty of Health.

“We also know how difficult it can be for women in regional and remote areas of Queensland to access health services and information that is backed by hard evidence.”

Media contact: Kate Haggman, QUT Media, 3138 0358 or kate.haggman@qut.edu.au


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