Commercial weight-loss programmes more effective

A new British study finds that commercial weight-loss program are more effective and less costly than primary care-based programme led by specially trained staff.

University of Birmingham researchers compared weight loss among obese and overweight women and men enrolled in commercial weight-loss programmes that lasted 12 weeks (Weight Watchers, Slimming World, Rosemary Conley) or in primary care-based programme (group-based dietetics, general practise one-to-one counselling, pharmacy one-to-one counselling).

The study also included a control group of patients who were given 12 vouchers for free use of a local fitness centre.

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 programme and for 522 of them one year later.

Participants in all the programmes had significant weight loss after 12 weeks, with the average ranging from 4 kilos among those in Weight Watchers to 1 kilo among those in general practise counselling. Weight loss among participants in the primary care programme was no better than among those in the control group.

Weight Watchers tops

After one year, statistically significant weight loss was evident in all groups except for the general practise and pharmacy counselling programme. However, participants in Weight Watchers were the only ones to achieve much greater weight loss than those in the control group.

An increase in physical activity was noted in all groups, with the smallest increase among those in the general practise counselling programme.

The researchers also found that attendance was highest in Weight Watchers and lowest in the primary care programme, which were also the most costly.

"Our findings suggest that a 12-week group-based dedicated programme 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.

(HealthDay, November 2011)

(Copyright © 2011 HealthDay. All rights reserved.)

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