Weight Watchers more effective than GP advice

Obese patients lose twice as much weight on commercial diet programmes than if they followed GP advice

Obese patients who enrole on commercial programmes such as Weight Watchers are likely to lose twice as much weight than if they just take advice from a doctor, according to research published in The Lancet.

The research found that overweight people who spent a year following a structured diet and attending regular group meetings lost an average of 11.1lb, compared to the 4.9lb shed by those who received advice from their GP.

The researchers say commercial programmes could be more successful at changing people’s behaviour because it offers a more frequent system of weighing and group support.

‘Data from our study suggests that referral by a primary health-care professional to a commercial weight loss programme that provides regular weighing, advice about diet and physical activity, motivation and group support can offer early intervention for weight management,’ says the report.

The study led by Dr Susan Jebb at the UK Medical Research Council in Cambridge also found that alongside weight loss, patients enrolled in commercial diet plans were likely to see a decrease in cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

‘Evidence shows the commercial programme assessed by Jebb and colleagues provides a more effective weight management service than primary care,’ says Kate Jolly and Paul Aveyard from the University of Birmingham.

‘Such programmes are likely to be an important component of the medical management of obesity in primary care.’

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