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UK Study Shows Commercial Weight Loss Plan Is Effective

By Edited Jun 7, 2015 2 11

Weight Watchers More Effective Than Doctor-Only Directed Weight Loss

Issues of obesity and overweight are expected to be high on the list of priority topics at the upcoming summit of the United Nations on non-communicable diseases (NCD), reports PBS Newshour. Results of a clinical trial conducted by 14 researchers at the UK Medical Research Council have been published in the British medical journal, The Lancet -- just in time to be considered by health professionals from around the world at the September 19 summit.

The trial included more than 770 participants from the United Kingdom, Australia and Germany and measured the difference in effectiveness of a commercial weight loss program versus doctor-only directed weight loss care. Study participants were split roughly in half, with one group receiving only standard physician-directed weight loss care and the other group receiving services through the commercial weight loss plan, Weight Watchers, explains the study report.

The participants who followed the Weight Watchers program for 12 months lost twice as much weight as the participants who had doctor-only weight loss care for the same time period.

Although headlines in some media have suggested this clinical trial proves the superiority of Weight Watchers over other commercial weight loss plans, the study had no such purpose.  The intention and application of the study was only to compare one commercial weight loss plan against doctor-only directed weight loss care.

It is worth noting that Weight Watchers funded the study, but  the clinical trial was carried out by the UK Medical Research Council (MRC). The MRC, as stated on its website, is a publicly funded research group whose mission statement states, in part, the organization is to "encourage and support research to improve human health." The funding of the clinical trial does not necessarily constitute a bias on the part of the research team. The British government founded the MRC  British government in 1913 and enjoys a professional reputation in the scientific community.

Obesity is a risk factor for many non-communicable diseases--diseases that are often called chronic diseases. These conditions include heart and lung disease, some cancers and diabetes, according to PBS Newshour. As the numbers of people who are overweight or obese increase, so does the incidence of chronic diseases.  The overweight, sedentary lifestyle that has come to represent the Western world is also bringing with it an ever-higher-spiraling in health care costs.

Will the U.N. summit result in recommendations for more people to join commercial weight loss plans to not only aid in weight loss, but also in health promotion? Will this clinical study spur some governments to pay for  care in the form of a weight loss club versus paying for the long-term effects of obesity? Time will tell. In the meantime, weigh the facts for yourself.



Sep 13, 2011 5:00pm
The economics involved cry out for prevention over cure...great article!
Sep 13, 2011 5:00pm
The economics involved cry out for prevention over cure...great article!
Sep 13, 2011 8:38pm
Thanks, Jen. You are so right; if insurance companies covered more preventive measures, people would be able to be more proactive in their health care. In the end, though, it really is about personal responsibility. Coverage for proven techniques would be the icing on the cake.
Oct 11, 2011 12:50pm
Great report on this important topic. You make a good point that it really is about personal responsibility.
Oct 13, 2011 8:31am
Great article with important information.
Oct 14, 2011 9:32am
Divaonline, thanks for the read and the comment. I think many people--myself included--have too often looked outside ourselves to fix blame, and then to seek solutions to what are really personal responsibility issues.

Victoria_Trix, appreciate you stopping by.
Oct 18, 2011 3:56pm
In the UK, prevention is the way forward and Gps can now refer you to a gym program where you only pay £1 for each session in a professional gym.

Sparkspeople was the best I ever used and it is completely free, with the same principles as weight watchers.
I have a review of Sparkspeople on my Info Barrel profile if you are interested in reading it.
Oct 18, 2011 9:43pm
Very informative article. Obesity is becoming an issue of serious concern. Of course, in my opinion preventing obesity should begin as a personal responsibility. The results of the study are pretty interesting and I guess anything that would help address the issue is welcome.
Oct 19, 2011 12:55pm
BohoGypsyArtist, I agree that preventing obesity is preferable to treating obesity, and I agree that both prevention and treatment are areas of personal responsibility. I think for those who find themselves in the position to want/need to lose weight, information such as that found from this study may help point them in the direction of success.
Oct 21, 2011 12:31pm
Great article on an important topic. I think the success of Weight Watchers is due to the camaraderie you find when you join such communities.
Oct 23, 2011 11:27am
Tom_Carver, I imagine the camaraderie is an important aspect of the success of Weight Watchers. I'd also read a study some time ago whose conclusion was that when people pay for a weight loss program, they are more motivated to follow it. These two factors, plus the program itself spells success for many Weight Watcher members.
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  1. Dr. Susan A. Jebb, Ph.D, , Amy L. Ahern, Ph.D, et al. "Primary care referral to a commercial provider for weight loss treatment versus standard care: a randomised controlled trial." The Lancet. (2011): None.
  2. Ray Suarez "The Silent, Deadly Epidemic of Non-Communicable Disease." PBS Newshour. 8/September/2011. 8/September/2011 <Web >
  3. "MRC: Our Mission." Medical Research Council. 8/September/2011 <Web >
  4. "Joining a diet club could double weight loss." Medical Research Council. 8/September/2011. 8/September/2011 <Web >

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