The social distancing and isolation measures imposed during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have disrupted usual routines and habits, and many people are feeling more anxious or stressed. Along with the closure of community weight management programmes and services, this means that adults with overweight and obesity in the UK may be vulnerable to weight gain, and the associated negative impacts on physical health and mental wellbeing.
The Supporting Weight Management during COVID-19 (SWiM-C) study is evaluating whether a new online self-help programme is better than standard advice at helping people to prevent weight gain and supporting good physical and mental health.
In June 2020, we began recruiting 360 adults with overweight and obesity. Half of the people in the study will be offered a web-based programme called “SWiM” (Supporting Weight Management). This 12-week intervention is based on acceptance and commitment therapy, targets known psychological determinants of weight management and is delivered via an online platform with remote support from a coach. The other half will be offered standard written advice materials on diet, physical activity and mental health. Participants receiving standard advice will be given access to the SWiM programme when they have completed the study. Those who receive the SWiM programme will receive standard advice when they have completed the study.
We will ask all participants to complete online questionnaires at the beginning of the study and at 4 months. At the end of the study, we will compare changes in weight and other outcomes between the two groups. We will also interview a small sample of participants over the telephone to find out about their experiences of the SWiM programme and the study. If the SWiM intervention proves to be effective, it could be rolled out on a larger scale to support people through the current crisis and may be generalizable to other situations involving high levels of stress, reduced access to resources, and/or low levels of mobility.