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Group sessions are facilitated by a trained session leader. Sessions are designed to last two hours and include the following program components:

  • Weigh-in (10 minutes): At the beginning of the session, each participant is weighed in private by the session leader or program assistant.

  • Check-in (30 minutes): Opening segment of the group session that involves group sharing and problem-solving. Participants generally talk about what happened during their time away from the group, including their successes and failures. The Check-in serves as a form of accountability to the group.

  • Weight Control Topic (60 minutes): The group discusses a weight management topic related to nutrition, physical activity, or behavior change. The discussion is designed to foster self-awareness about what participants do (behaviors) and how their thinking influences what they do. Educational content is also covered on a particular topic to help participants change their behavior(s). The group discussion is followed by a demonstration and practice activity related either to nutrition (Taste It!) or physical activity (Move It!).

  • Next Steps (20 minutes): At the end of each group session, participants focus on goal-setting and action-planning activities. They set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) goals and identify the strategies they will adopt to reach their goals. This generally involves writing down a plan of action, followed by group sharing of goals to promote accountability. In conclusion, the session leader summarizes what happened in the current session and provides a preview of the next week’s session.

Keys to Success

  • It is recommended that prospective participants be pre-screened prior to enrolling in the program to determine if they are ready and willing to commit to an intensive weight management program.

  • To accommodate participants’ schedules, it is recommended that group sessions be offered at least twice a week on different days and at different times of the day (e.g., one morning session and one early-evening session).

  • To bolster session attendance throughout the 16 weeks, participant reminder calls are made just prior to each group session and follow-up calls are made immediately afterwards to participants who missed the session.

  • It is recommended that each participant receive a personalized feedback report summarizing weight loss progress, minutes of physical activity, and number of completed daily food diaries approximately every five weeks during the program.

  • Small incentives or door prizes related to each week’s weight management topic (e.g., lunch bags, water bottles, hand weights, PA videos, reflective arm bands) can be distributed at the end of weekly sessions. Incentives are always appreciated by participants and can help support session attendance and behavior change.

Barriers to Implementation

  • Identification of a regular meeting space that is available for 16 consecutive weeks and large enough to accommodate group-based exercise can often be problematic, especially in a busy, health care setting. It might be wise to find a meeting space elsewhere in the community, such as at a church or senior center.