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ANNIKA IMHAGEN - Evaluation of a primary care based group treatment of overweight and obesity

PhD project participating in the National Research School in General Medicine.

Overweight and obesity is a growing problem and treatment is challenging. Lifestyle changes are important to gain a better health and to lose weight, but can be difficult to carry through alone. Group treatment can be a cost effective treatment that can offer support with lifestyle changes.

PhD Student

Annika Imhagen
PhD Student, Örebro University

Project overview

Project period:

Start date: 2021-01-01

Project description

More than 50 % of every person over 18 years in Sweden are overweight or obese. Main reasons for this are changes in lifestyle habits regarding diet and physical activity. In the Primary care in Region Örebro County a group treatment, Step by step, has been in use since 2010. The group treatment is inspired by cognitive behavioural therapy and the main goal for the participants is to start concrete changes of lifestyle habits to gain a better health. The group treatment comprises of six group sessions over 6-8 months with different themes focusing on diet, physical activity and goal setting. Between the group sessions there are home assignments, mostly about registering different lifestyle habits. You can expect everything from weight stability to a 5 % weight loss after participating in Step by step. The group treatment can also be a foundation to other treatments in the future.


To evaluate a primary care based group treatment of overweight and obesity

Sub-study 1 A prospective observational study of participants in Step by step with assessments at baseline and follow-up after 6-8, 12 and 24 months. Primary outcome variable: change in weight. Secondary outcome variables: change of dietary habits, physical activity, quality of life, eating habits and metabolic health. Measurements: length, weight, blood pressure, blood samples, accelerometer data and questionnaires.

Sub-study 2 Individual interviews with participants in Step by step, before and after the group treatment. The interviews focus on experiences of living with overweight/obesity, motives to change lifestyle habits and to lose weight and participants experiences of the group treatment. The analysis of the transcribed interviews will be done according to qualitative content analysis by Graneheim & Lundman.

Group treatment can be a cost-effective method to treat obesity, and group sessions can give social support and opportunity for the participants to share experiences and common challenges. Measures that can make the treatment of overweight and obesity more effective are of great importance, both for the individual and the society. Furthermore, it is vital to gain more knowledge about how it is to live with overweight/obesity, motives to change lifestyle habits to lose weight and experiences of the group treatment when planning for future interventions. The group treatment Step by step has not been scientifically evaluated before, and the thesis is expected to show if it is effective and fulfils its goals.

University affiliation

Örebro University, Department of Health Sciences

Main supervisor

Agneta Anderzén Carlsson, associate professor