Which weight loss programs work best?

In my last post about obesity, I described a woman who lost weight by some fairly simple yet effective lifestyle changes.

6 steps to losing weight and gaining hope

But some people like and do better with something structured. Therefore, commercial weight loss programs are plentiful and popular. But do they work?

Do structured weight loss programs help people lose weight?
Do structured weight loss programs help people lose weight?

A group of internal medicine specialists reviewed 45 studies which evaluated the effectiveness of several commercial weight loss programs, including Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Medifast, Nutrisystem, Slim Fast, The Biggest Loser Club, eDiets and Atkins. They looked at amount of weight loss as well as possible harms. The studies compared the use of these programs to doing nothing, or minimal counselling and support.

I think this study is helpful because it looked at sustained weight loss at one year. People often can lose weight short term, but then gain it back. Successful weight loss must be maintained. Of the programs evaluated, Jenny Craig performed best, with almost 5% greater weight loss than the control group; Weight Watchers was next with 2.6% greater loss.

There are other factors which may have impacted the results. People who use these programs may be more motivated in the first place. Also, most of the participants were female, so the results may not apply to males.

These programs often involve some amount of counselling, education and group support, which helps some people stay committed to the process. Some involve purchasing food plans or meal replacement products which make it easier to eat healthy food but are sometimes cost prohibitive.

If you have used these or other structured weight loss programs, please leave a comment about your experience. Was it helpful, and for how long? Was it easy or hard to stick to? Was it worth the money you paid?

via Efficacy of Commercial Weight-Loss Programs: An Updated Systematic ReviewEfficacy of Commercial Weight-Loss Programs | Annals of Internal Medicine.


Books featuring recipes from these two successful programs (these are affiliate links)

Weight Watchers Cook It Fast

Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook

The Jenny Craig Cookbook: Cutting through the Fat

Jenny Craig Diabetes Cookbook

Go here for a true story about one woman’s success using Weight Watchers- “Breaking up with junk food” 

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