For some, trying to lose weight is easier when they have support from their doctor. Sometimes even going to meetings are helpful. Weight Watchers, a program that has been around for nearly 50 years, is a common place for people to go when they need help losing weight. Now, according to a yearlong study funded by the company, findings show that the program is the place to go if you want to lose more weight on average versus going to your doctor.
Published Wednesday, the study included 772 men and women in Australia, Germany, and the United Kingdom who were recruited from ordinary doctor’s appointments. Around half of the participants were recruited to receive a free 12-month membership to Weight Watchers that also included the weekly meetings. The other half of the group was encouraged to meet one-on-one with their doctor to discuss weight-management.
Those who stuck with the Weight Watchers program for the full 12-month membership (about 60%) lost 15 pounds on average compared with 7 pounds among the 54% who continued to go to their doctor.
When they looked at the people who left the program before the end of the year, their average weight loss was obviously lower but still had similar patterns. The Weight Watchers group lost 11 pounds on average and the other group only lost 5 pounds.
Michael Jensen, M.D., an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minnesota, told CNN.com, research has shown that dieters are more likely to continue with a program that stresses accountability. It’s only natural that the weekly weigh-ins and “group spirit” of programs such as Weight Watchers would prove more effective than occasional guidance from a doctor or nurse.
The results from the Weight Watchers study may not entirely reflect how real paying dieters would succeed with the program. For regular dieters, attending Weight Watchers or any other similar program, could really add up over the year and this could influence finishing the program or not.
Although the study was sponsored by Weight Watchers, the researchers ensured the company had no control over the design and results and were allowed to publish the data regardless of the results.