Desperate to shed the kilos piled on over Christmas? Round-the-clock help will soon be available from the University of Leeds, where researchers are setting up an interactive website.
The nutrition epidemiology group at the Nuffield Institute for Health aims to compare the care provided by family doctors with its UK Weight Control scheme.
Dietitian Sara Kirk, a senior research fellow, said the site would offer round-the-clock advice. "Dieters have often told me they need help and support 24 hours a day," she said.
The site is being piloted using volunteers from among university staff. Volunteer dieters, recruited via GP surgeries in the Leeds area, will be put in either the internet group or the "usual care" group.
Once assessed for eligibility, users will be weighed and measured by a GP, given a user name and password and a site demonstration. They will then be invited to log on to the website as often as they feel necessary. Their progress will be assessed after six and 12 months.
The researchers hope to show that an internet-based package for weight-loss management, coupled with the care available from doctors, is more effective than doctors' advice alone.