After seemingly endless rounds of overeating before and during the holidays, Federal employees have a weapon to fight back. As volunteers in a study funded by the National Institutes of Health, they are using hand-held computers to control cholesterol and weight.
Health and safety managers alerted employees to the study that was open to anyone meeting the test criteria. The six month study is one of a series in which the DietMate, a palm-sized computer, guided volunteers towards a healthier lifestyle.
According to Dr. Albert Jerome, one of the product's developers, "DietMate is effective because it helps structure appropriate food choices and provides a simple means for tracking progress." Federal employee, Jim Frater, lost 31 pounds in 12 weeks by using the computer. He said he had been trying to lose weight on his own before volunteering for the study. During the initial screening, Frater discovered his cholesterol level was too high. He has since reduced his total cholesterol from 252 milligrams/deciliter to 171. "In recent years my weight had steadily crept upward." Frater said. "I lost 10 pounds with a cross-country ski machine, then gained it back because my eating habits hadn't changed."
Since June, Frater's DietMate computer has been his constant companion. "It tells me every morning to weigh myself," Frater said. "The computer also gives menu suggestions. After I've eaten, I key in what I ate, and it subtracts the amount of fat, calories, and cholesterol from my daily allotment. If I overdid it, the computer will suggest smaller meals for the rest of the day." "If I go over for the day, the next morning I'll get a message that reads, 'Watch your calorie intake more carefully today, Jim!' or 'Choose foods that are lower in cholesterol today, Jim!'"
Frater said it took about a week for the computer to "catch on" to his lifestyle. "Then, it kind of locked in and set up a regimen for my intake of calories and saturated fat. It also gives me exercise options, taking the pattern I set and gradually increasing the activity."
When Frater reached his weight goal, the computer played fanfare. Since the study ended, with help from his DietMate, Frater has maintained his target weight.
DietMate was developed by PICS, Inc. PICS is best known for it's LifeSign Stop Smoking Product which helps people to quit smoking with the aid of a credit card sized computer. LifeSign was developed with support from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and was chosen by Popular Science Magazine as one of the "100 Greatest Products and Achievements in Science & Technology." Over a million people have used this scientifically tested, drug free program, proven to have the highest quit rate of any other self help program available today. Recently, under a grant from the National Cancer Institute, PICS modified LifeSign to extend its use to tobacco dippers and chewers. Future studies will use the computers to control hypertension and diabetes.
For information on DietMate or LifeSign call PICS, Inc. at 1-800-543-3744 (1-800-LIFESIGN) or visit their website at www.LifeSignUSA.com
Editors note: Al Behar, President of PICS, Inc. is available for interviews. Please call Yamit Willentzik at (703) 758-1400 or E-mail