Weight Watchers works, scientific study finds

Wed Sep 7, 2011 7:10pm EDT
 
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By Kate Kelland

LONDON (Reuters) - Overweight patients told by their doctors to go to Weight Watchers lose around twice as much weight as people receiving standard weight loss care over 12 months, according to the findings of a study published on Thursday.

In the first randomized controlled trial -- considered the gold standard of scientific analysis -- to directly compare a commercial weight-loss program with standard care by family doctors, Weight Watchers was found to be more than twice as effective.

More people stuck to the Weight Watchers diet, they lost more weight and fat mass, and also shaved more off their waist measurements than those assigned to standard care.

Susan Jebb of Britain's Medical Research Council (MRC) Human Nutrition Research Unit, who led the study said the results showed that Weight Watchers is "a robust intervention that is generalizable to other economically developed countries."

"This kind of research is important so that we can identify clinically effective interventions to treat obesity," Jebb said.

The study, published in the Lancet medical journal, comes in the wake of research last month which 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.

Worldwide, around 1.5 billion adults are overweight and another 0.5 billion are obese, with 170 million children classified as overweight or obese. Obesity takes up between 2 to 6 percent of healthcare costs in many countries.

In the weight loss study, which was funded by Weight Watchers International but run as an investigator-led trial with all data collection and analysis conducted by the independent research team, researchers assessed 772 overweight and obese adults in Australia, Germany and Britain.   Continued...

 
<p>Actress and singer Jennifer Hudson poses for photographs during an interview with Reuters at P.S. 111 Adolf S. Ochs Elementary School in New York City, September 15, 2010. Hudson, the Brand Ambassador for Weight Watchers was visiting the school to help launch their third annual Lose For Good campaign, an initiative that fights hunger where the company will donate up to $1 million to two leading hunger fighting organizations, Share Our Strength and Action Against Hunger. REUTERS/Mike Segar</p>