Study: Weight Watchers works well

That’s great and all, but it’s sad we are in a society where we have to pay to have someone tell us what to eat that is healthy. Why can’t there just be an infrastructure that supports healthy lifestyles?

The perfect weight-loss plan doesn’t exist. People are motivated by different types of incentives. What works for one person may be a dismal failure for another.

But the findings published in the Lancet medical journal found evidence that the Weight Watchers program works twice as well as standard weight loss care given by doctors.

Specifically, overweight patients told by their doctors to go to Weight Watchers lost nearly twice as much weight as people who got standard care by family doctors, according to the National Institutes of Health’s Medline Plus. This was said to be the first randomized controlled trial, considered the best way to analyze scientific data, which directly compared a commercial weight-loss program with care from doctors.

As people often struggle this time of year to get their weight under control, this finding shows Weight Watchers could be a good solution for some people — especially if other diets or going it alone hasn’t worked.

Derrick Deaton, a 28-year-old Westfield resident who I wrote about last fall, is one great local example of how it can work. At age 26, he was 529 pounds and had a 64-inch waist.

With the help of Weight Watchers and a steady exercise regimen, he lost 340 pounds over 2 ½ years. Now, he weighs 190 pounds and has a 32-inch waist.

In the study, more people kept on the Weight Watchers diet, lost more weight and body fat mass and also reduced their waist measurements than those given standard care.

“This kind of research is important so that we can identify clinically effective interventions to treat obesity,” said Susan Jebb, of Britain’s Medical Research Council Human Nutrition Research Unit, who led the study.

The weight loss study was funded by Weight Watchers International, but it was run as an investigator-led trial. That means that all data collection and analysis was conducted by an independent research team. They assessed 772 overweight and obese adults in Australia, Germany and Britain.

Patients were randomly assigned to get either 12 months of standard care, as usually offered by a primary care team, or referred to and given a 12-month free membership to a nearby Weight Watchers group.

In addition to losing twice as much weight as people getting standard care, those referred to Weight Watchers were more than three times as likely to lose 10 percent or more of their initial body weight. About 61 percent of Weight Watchers group lost at least 5 percent of their body weight, compared with 32 percent in the standard care group.

People using Weight Watchers lost an average of 11.2 pounds over a year, versus less than half that amount for the others.

Since the U.S., and particularly Indiana, has such a problem with obesity, we may forget that it’s a worldwide problem, too. About 1.5 million adults are overweight worldwide and another half-billion are obese. That includes 170 million children.

To put this in perspective, research last fall said obesity is a global epidemic that is fast replacing tobacco as the single most important preventable cause of costly chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

The researchers said they believed results showed that obesity treatment is effective and structured, reasonably-priced commercial programs can improve outcomes.

Weight Watchers, of course, isn’t the only effective weight-loss program available, but it does seem to work for a lot of people who are looking for long-term changes, not necessarily quick fixes. You’ve got to be willing to put in some time, using its point system, and going to meetings is helpful. Having that support system, say many weight loss experts, is critical.


2 thoughts on “Study: Weight Watchers works well

  1. davidjhorne says:

    It is amazing that people still believe being reactive to a problem is the solution. Weight watchers is a reactive solution to obesity and to truly solve this issue we need to understand what the root cause of obesity is.
    I personally think that it is peoples lack of food knowledge and how the nutrition content of their food effects the body . The majority of society still think processed foods, such as pasta are good for you – they are NOT.
    What we need to do is focus our energy on the young and educate them on the nutrition value of food and how to manage weight.

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