FALLS CHURCH, VA—TRICARE Management Activity is recruiting for a demonstration project in four states that tests how to best educate active-duty family members and retired beneficiaries about the negative effects of obesity and encourage healthy food choices.

"Data collected during this demonstration project will provide invaluable guidance to the department's leaders and the military health system in determining what weight management treatments work for our beneficiaries," said Navy Capt. Patricia Buss, deputy chief medical officer, TRICARE Management Activity.

The Research Triangle Institute and the Cooper Institute have implemented the Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEALTH) in TRICARE Households program, a four-state demonstration project for TRICARE beneficiaries living in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Michigan. Research Triangle Institute began recruitment for project participants late last month. The project provides non-active duty adult, prime-enrolled, overweight and obese beneficiaries access to behavior modification targeting diet and physical activity for 12 months. To be eligible, beneficiaries must be aged 18 to 64, not entitled to Medicare or not enrolled in the TRICARE Extended Care Health Option and living within 40 miles of a military treatment facility.

The project's goal is to determine the usefulness and feasibility of a weight management benefit for TRICARE beneficiaries. The behavioral component of the program includes access to HEALTH material though automated telephone messages and the Internet, as well as interactive behavioral support and education. The primary focus of the project is to study the participant's ability to achieve and maintain a 5 to 10 percent weight loss during the study.

Air Force Col. Joyce Grissom, medical director in the Office of the Chief Medical Director, TRICARE Management Activity, said the demo project will offer non-active duty beneficiaries access to scientifically based behavioral interventions that have previously been offered to active-duty service members through face-to-face, service-specific, multidisciplinary weight management programs.

"We hope that this demonstration and other lifestyle-oriented pilot projects will have a positive and life-long impact on the health of participating TRICARE beneficiaries," Grissom said. "We want to continue to find ways to enhance the benefit and deliver the best possible health care."