Scientists at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom have recently completed a study which shed some light on what might be the most effective ways to lose weight. To the surprise of many, researchers concluded that commercial weight loss programs are significantly more effective than local primary care-based programs.
Researchers randomly assigned 740 obese or overweight subjects of the study into a variety of weight loss plans. These included three commercial programs, Weightwatchers, Slimming World and Rosemary Conley, and six different interventions provided by primary care physicians. Another group was allowed to choose one of the six primary care options. A final group received vouchers for a leisure center.
The study lasted a period of 12 weeks and the subjects received regular subsequent follow-up for one year. The results were unexpected and encouraging. All interventions brought significant weight loss after the 12 weeks were completed, and all but general practitioner and pharmacy-led counseling were still yielding weight loss benefits after one year. Interestingly, only those people on the commercial weight loss plans lost significantly more weight after 12 weeks.
Dr Kate Jolly, a senior lecturer in public health and epidemiology at the University of Birmingham and lead author of the study, emphasized that it is actually cheaper and more effective to take part in a commercial weight loss program, as opposed to getting help from a primary care-based program. She also noted that subjects who were given a choice of which program they wished to join did not have any better outcomes than those who were randomly assigned to one of any number of weight loss intervention programs.