A new study published by The Lancet medical journal shows adults under a Weight Watchers program lost around twice as much weight as people receiving standard care.
The study, led by Dr Susan Jebb, UK Medical Research Council (MRC) Human Nutrition Research unit, Cambridge, UK, and colleagues, assessed 772 overweight and obese adults in Australia, Germany, and the UK.
Randomly assigned patients were either given a 12-month free membership for a Weight Watchers group or 12 months of standard care by a care team.
According to the authors, “Weight Watchers is a commercial weight management programme that offers weekly weighing, group support, and promotes a reduced energy, balanced diet and increased physical activity.”
For standard care, the authors explained, “Primary care providers [were] to offer weight loss treatment in line with national guidelines (the links for [which] are provided in the Article), but it was then left to each practice to decide the level of care.” “In the majority of cases however,” they said, “this was usually one to one advice with a healthcare provider.” “In the UK this was almost always a nurse or healthcare assistant. In Germany this was almost always the GP. In Australia it was a mixture of the two depending on practice set up,” the authors said.
As reported by the researchers, the study found:
The authors conclude that referrals by a primary health-care professional to a commercial weight loss program that provides advice about diet and exercise, motivation, regular weighing, and a support group, in obese and overweight people, can be delivered effectively and at reasonable cost, at large scale.
The authors add, “The similar weight losses achieved in Australia, Germany, and the UK implies that this commercial programme, in partnership with primary care providers, is a robust intervention that is generalisable to other economically developed countries.”
The full study report is available in the September 8 online issue of The Lancet.
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