New Study Finds a Commercial Weight Loss Program More Effective Than Standard Care Programs

Weight WatchingA 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:

“Of the 377 participants assigned to the commercial programme, 230 (61%) completed the 12-month assessment; the remainder (395) were assigned to standard care, of whom 214 (54%) completed the 12-month assessment. In all analyses, participants in the commercial programme group lost around twice as much weight as did those in the standard care group. The mean weight change at 12 months was –5.1 kg [11.2 lbs] for those in the commercial programme versus –2.2 kg [ 4.8 lbs] for those receiving standard care (for all participants in each group). For those who completed the 12 months, mean weight loss was 6.7 kg [14.7 lbs] in the commercial programme versus 3.3 kg [7.3 lbs] is the standard care group). Participants randomised to Weight Watchers were also more than 3 times as likely to lose at least 5% of their bodyweight compared with those receiving standard care.”

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.”

More Information

The full study report is available in the September 8 online issue of The Lancet.

See also the HelpingYouCare™ reports on:

How Do People Lose Weight & What Can Be Done About the Obesity Epidemic?

Obesity Alert: Scientists Warn of Alarming Health Costs, Discuss Cures

The Obesity Epidemic: What it Means for America & What Can Be Done About It

And, see the HelpingYouCare™ resource pages on Wellness/ Healthy Living for Seniors & Caregivers, including:

Diet & Nutrition: Physical Wellness;

Exercise: Physical Wellness;

and our other wellness topics.


Copyright © 2011 Care-Help LLC, publisher of HelpingYouCare™.


1 comment to New Study Finds a Commercial Weight Loss Program More Effective Than Standard Care Programs

  • After one year of weekly meetings, weigh-ins and support, they lost a grand total of 11 pounds? Who can pay $50 a month to lose a pound? Frankly – it’s just not that impressive. Other programs like Take Shape for Life have done much better in studies, such as this one at Johns Hopkins.

    If people are serious about losing weight, they need to find a program they can live with long term, not feel deprived and have more significant results. Thanks!
    Renee Mclaughlin

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