Losing Weight Is Easier If You Do This
You'll lose more weight and have an easier time keeping it off if you follow a structured diet program, such as Weight Watchers, than if you try to diet by yourself, according to new research from the New York Obesity Research Center at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital.
But beware! Even with the help of a structured program, you may not lose as much as you think you will.
The experiment: Four hundred twenty-three men and women between the ages of 18 and 65 were randomly given either a number to call to find the nearest Weight Watchers meeting and vouchers to attend or provided with two brief counseling sessions with a nutritionist and then left to lose weight on their own.
The results: In the study that was funded by Weight Watchers but conducted independently, it was shown that people who followed the program for two years lost an average of just six pounds, reports Reuters. However, Weight Watchers' members who were very devoted to the program and attended most of the meetings lost an average of 11 pounds over the same period. (It should be noted that some people in the study lost a lot of weight on Weight Watchers, including one person who lost 50 pounds in two years.)
Weight Watchers did work better than nothing. The people who were in a control group and dieted on their own armed only with information about smart eating and exercising lost less than one-half of a pound after two years.
The structured program "seems to hold advantages over trying to lose the weight by yourself," study author Dr. Stanley Heshka admitted to Reuters. Still, the average weight loss among Weight Watchers participants "is not very much in comparison to what people hope they will lose or what people need to lose in order to reach the desired, svelte self," he explained.
So what does this mean? If you're overweight and not yet obese, a structured diet program could be a significant health benefit. "Whatever amount you can lose and keep off represents a victory," Heshka told Reuters. But those who are obese and need to lose a lot of weight quickly should seek medical advice and not rely on a program like Weight Watchers.
The study findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.