THURSDAY, Nov. 3 (HealthDay News) -- A new British study finds
that commercial weight-loss programs are more effective and less
costly than primary care-based programs led by specially trained
University of Birmingham researchers compared weight loss among
obese and overweight women and men enrolled in commercial
weight-loss programs that lasted 12 weeks (Weight Watchers,
Slimming World, Rosemary Conley) or in primary care-based programs
(group-based dietetics, general practice one-to-one counseling,
pharmacy one-to-one counseling).
The study also included a control group of patients who were
given 12 vouchers for free use of a local fitness center.
There were 740 people at the start of the study, and follow-up
data were available for 658 of them at the end of the 12-week
program and for 522 of them one year later.
Participants in all the programs had significant weight loss
after 12 weeks, with the average ranging from 9.7 pounds among
those in Weight Watchers to 3.1 pounds among those in general
practice counseling. Weight loss among participants in the primary
care programs was no better than among those in the control
After one year, statistically significant weight loss was
evident in all groups except for the general practice and pharmacy
counseling programs. However, participants in Weight Watchers were
the only ones to achieve much greater weight loss than those in the
An increase in physical activity was noted in all groups, with
the smallest increase among those in the general practice
The researchers also found that attendance was highest in Weight
Watchers and lowest in the primary care programs, which were also
the most costly.
"Our findings suggest that a 12-week group-based dedicated program of weight management can result in clinically useful amounts of weight loss that are sustained at one year," the study authors wrote.
"Commercially provided weight-management services are more effective and cheaper than primary care-based services led by specially trained staff, which are ineffective," they added.
The study was published online Nov. 3 in the
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