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  • Weight Watchers more effective than self-help

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
    Saturday, September 20, 2003 3:17 pm Email this article
    Weight Watchers causes more weight loss than a brief counseling and self-help program according to a recent study.

    Participants randomly assigned to the Weight Watchers group lost more weight after one year and two years than those assigned to the self-help group.

    After one year participants in the Weight Watchers group had lost an average of 9.5 pounds compared to 2.9 pounds in the self-help group.

    After two years the average weight loss was 6.4 pounds in the Weight Watchers group compared to 0.4 pounds in the self-help group.

    Patients who attended at least three-fourths (78 percent) or more of the Weight Watchers group sessions maintained an average weight loss of almost 11 pounds.

    Maximum weight loss occured after six months in both groups followed by some weight regain.

    The study included 423 overweight and obese people with a body mass index of 27 to 40—65 men and 358 women. Subjects were 18- to 65-years-old.

    The Weight Watchers program consisted of a food plan, an activity plan, and a cognitive restructuring behavior modification plan, delivered at weekly meetings. Participants were given vouchers which entitled them to attend sessions at Weight Watchers.

    The self-help program consisted of a 20 minute counseling session with a nutritionist at the start of the study and another 20 minute counseling session after three months. Participants were also given publicly available material to educate them about dietary principles and exercise guidelines for safe weight loss.

    Approximately three-fourths of patients in both groups completed the two-year study.


    Heshka S, Anderson J, Atkinson R, Greenway F, Hill J, Phinney S, Kolotkin R, Miller-Kovach K, Pi-Sunyer FX. Weight loss with self-help compared with a structured commercial program: a randomized trial. JAMA. 2003 Apr 9, 289(14):1792-98.


    S. Heshka
    New York Obesity Research Center
    St Luke’s/Roosevelt Hospital and Columbia University
    New York, NY
    .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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