Madigan research examines weight loss tools

By Sgt. Adam L. Mathis/17th Public Affairs Detachment on November 20, 2012

Madigan Army Medical Center is conducting a new, two-year research study to see if education and an herbal supplement can help Soldiers lose weight.

Researchers are looking for 500 Soldiers to participate in the "Fit and Ready" study. It involves weeks of coaching about good nutrition and exercise, said Sabrina Ramme of Seattle, a registered dietician working on the study. Some Soldiers will also receive an herbal supplement.

"We're looking at whether just having the coach improves the outcomes of the existing Army ‘MOVE!' program and we're looking at whether the supplement works or not," Ramme said. Having multiple groups try different methods allows the researchers to determine whether education, the supplement, or both help Soldiers lose weight.

Fit and Ready, funded by TriService Nursing Research Program, came about as part of research into Soldiers' bone health, said Ramme. During the course of that study, researchers noticed that Soldiers were gaining weight over the course of deployments or upon returning home. These observations, combined with the reality that Americans in general are overweight, gave birth to Fit and Ready.

"It's definitely a public health priority ... helping Soldiers maintain a healthy weight, that's why it's the Fit and Ready study, we want to maintain a fit and ready force," Ramme said."

Researchers are testing nutrition education and herbal supplements because there is evidence that each can lead to weight loss, said Evelyn Elshaw, a registered dietician from Olympia who is working on the study.

Soldiers concerned about their weight can volunteer for Fit and Ready. To be eligible, Soldiers must be active duty, within 3 to 5 percent of the Army's body fat composition requirements and generally healthy. They cannot have previously participated in the Army MOVE! weight control program, and they must be available for 12 weeks. Female Soldiers must be at least six months postpartum and not breastfeeding.

Soldiers who are command referred to nutrition counseling will be given an opportunity to participate in the study starting no later than January, Ramme said.

Anyone interested who meets the criteria can call 968-4751 or send an e-mail to to volunteer.