Lose Weight with Enhanced Podcasts


Have you tried to lose weight but none of the diets have worked? Perhaps you need to listen to lose: a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study found that overweight adults who listened to enhanced podcasts on weight loss dropped significantly more pounds than those who listened to a standard weight loss podcast.

Tapping into audio technology to help people lose weight is nothing new. Self-hypnosis tapes for weight loss have been around for decades, but their effectiveness is questionable. CDs and DVDs that contain subliminal messages on weight loss are also available, but evidence that they are helpful is limited as well.

One Canadian study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology evaluated the impact of subliminal self-help audiotapes to aid weight loss in overweight adults. The researchers found that all the adults lost weight during the five week study regardless of whether they listened to a weight loss tape from a manufacturer, a placebo tape, or no tape, and that there was no significant difference between the amount of weight lost.

The University of North Carolina study, however, had some success. Entitled “Pounds Off Digitally (POD) Study: A Randomized Podcasting Weight Loss Intervention,” the researchers turned to new technologies that allowed them to deliver specially designed messages to people that could help them lose weight. To that end, they tested customized and noncustomized weight-loss podcasts delivered through MP3s and earbuds to 78 overweight (body mass index [BMI] of 25 to 40 points) adults over a twelve-week period.


The participants were randomly assigned to listen to 24 episodes of a currently available podcast on weight loss (control group) or an enhanced podcast that had been designed using the principles of social cognitive theory. The enhanced podcast also included nutrition and exercise information, a soap opera that had a weight loss theme, and an audio journal of an individual who was trying to lose weight.

By the end of the study, the group that had used the enhanced podcast had lost 6.4 pounds compared with 0.7 pounds in the control group. The enhanced group also dropped one point in BMI compared with a 0.1 point drop in the control group.

The study’s authors would like to conduct further studies to determine whether podcasts can be effective for weight loss if used for a longer period of time. They are also curious whether podcasts customized for very specific weight loss concerns, such as how to make healthy choices when dining out, would be beneficial. It would also be helpful to if podcasts can be effective in helping people maintain weight loss and how they might be used to assist people with weight loss maintenance.

Merikle PM, Skanes HE. Journal of Applied Psychology 1992 Oct; 77(5): 772-76
Turner-McGrievy GM et al. American Journal of Preventive Medicine online September 15, 2009

Written by Deborah Mitchell
Tucson, Arizona
Exclusive to eMaxHealth