Swift logo

We all know how hard it is to lose weight and to keep it off! Our SWIFT (Support strategies for Whole-food diets, Intermittent Fasting and Training) study wants to test different ways of helping you to make good changes to your diet and lifestyle that you can actually stick to.

Tell me more about the study

There is so much information out there about which diet is the "best" diet for managing your weight that it gets pretty confusing for most people. As researchers we know that there is actually no "best" diet for weight loss, but rather a range of suitable options that will suit different people. What seems to be more important is working out how to help people to stick to those healthy options over time. This is what SWIFT is all about – testing five different ways of helping you stick to healthy changes to your diet and exercise habits (the Support programmes). You can choose which diet and exercise plan you might like to follow (more information can be found in the diet & exercise plans) – and we will give you help and resources to do this. At the start of the study you will be randomised to one of the five support groups described below – this means you cannot choose which support programme you get into and neither can we. You have to be prepared to be in any of the five groups.

What will I have to do?

If you decide to take part, you will be provided with advice and support about eating healthily and being physically active over the next two years. As part of the study, we would like you to come to our clinic at the University a few times to answer some questionnaires, do a couple of blood tests, and have some measurements taken, including your weight and blood pressure. You would also do a fitness test on the treadmill. Depending which support programme you end up in, you would come and see us at the University between 5 and 14 times over the next year.

Who are you looking for?

We are looking for males and females who are at least 18 years of age and have a body mass index of 27 or more. We will check this for you to see if you are eligible. Please be aware that some health conditions and medications may mean you can’t take part in SWIFT.

What's in it for me?

We will provide you with free exercise and nutrition advice, and will measure your cholesterol, blood pressure and fitness levels. You will get on-going follow-up of your progress.

What are the different support programmes?

There are five different types of support programmes, and which one you get into is just by chance. Some programmes get more support than others.

Usual care: You will get all the diet and exercise information but no extra support.

Daily self-weighing: You will weigh yourself every morning and text us the result and we will chat to you briefly once a month about progress.

Brief Support: You will come and see us once a month, we’ll weigh you, see how things are going, and give you any extra advice and support.

Hunger Training: You will learn about physical hunger versus emotional hunger by testing your blood glucose levels each time before you eat for 2-3 weeks at the start of the study.

Tracking: You will use a computer programme (or an app on your smartphone) which helps you track what you eat and how much activity you have done.

Are there any risks to being in this study?

Improving your diet and exercise habits is most likely going to be good for you! We will do careful checks to make sure that the exercise program you choose is going to be safe for you. Blood tests can cause minor discomfort and you may get some slight bruising around the site. However if bruising does occur it should disappear within one day.

What use will be made of the information?

Only the researchers will have access to the information. All data and questionnaires will be kept confidential. Group results of the project may be published, but not in a way that could identify any individual person.

Can I change my mind?

Deciding whether to take part in the study is entirely your choice. You can withdraw from the project at any time and do not have to give any reason for doing so. Withdrawing from the project will not affect your healthcare in any way.

What if I have any questions?

If you require an interpreter, one can be provided. You are welcome to have a friend, family member or whanau support you. If you have any queries or concerns about your rights as a participant in this study you may wish to contact a Health and Disability Services Consumer Advocate:

Telephone: (03) 479 0265 or
Freephone: 0800 37 77 66 or
Freefax: 0800 2787 7678 or

If you have any specific Maori issues or concerns please contact Linda Grennell at 0800 377 766.

If you have any questions about our project, either now or in the future, please contact us on the phone or email addresses below.

Department of Medicine
P O Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand
Telephone: (03) 479 5953
Mobile: 022 192 7421

This study has ethical approval from the University of Otago Ethics Committee.