Department of Psychiatry
Penn Behavioral Health

Center for Weight and Eating Disorders

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About Power Up

The Practice-Based Opportunities for Weight Reduction at the University of Pennsylvania (POWER-UP) study was one of three trials funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to study behavioral interventions for weight loss in primary care practice. The purpose of the Power-UP study at Penn was to determine whether weight management strategies previously shown to be effective in research settings could be useful in primary care settings. The study was conducted between January, 2008 and February, 2011. 

Three hundred ninety study participants were recruited from 6 Penn Medicine primary care practices in the Philadelphia area. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups: Usual Care, Brief Lifestyle Counseling, and Enhanced Brief Lifestyle Counseling. Those assigned to Usual Care received printed educational materials during quarterly visits with their primary care provider (PCP). Those in Brief Lifestyle Counseling received the same quarterly PCP visits as those in Usual Care, but were also provided brief (10-15 minute) monthly visits with a “lifestyle coach.” Participants in Enhanced Brief Lifestyle Counseling had the same quarterly PCP visits and the same brief visits with a lifestyle coach. In addition, in consultation with their PCP, they chose to take either a medication efforts (i.e., sibutramine, orlistat) or meal replacements (Slimfast) to potentially increase their weight losses.  Participants in this group were only permitted to take one enhancement at a time (i.e. medication or meal replacements) but could switch between them with permission from their PCP. One of these medications, sibutramine, was removed from the market near the end of the study, and participants who were taking this medication were instructed to switch to either meal replacements or orlistat.