Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Penn Researchers Evaluate Major Commercial Weight Loss Programs

Date:
January 15, 2005
Source:
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Summary:
Obesity continues to plague an ever-growing number of Americans, dramatically increasing not only their girth, but also their chances of developing Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease and other debilitating illnesses. The situation is further complicated when those seeking to lose weight generally have only glossy advertisements or testimonials to guide them to an appropriate source of help. To address this problem, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have evaluated major commercial diets and self-help weight loss programs.

Philadelphia, PA -- Obesity continues to plague an ever-growing number of Americans, dramatically increasing not only their girth, but also their chances of developing Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease and other debilitating illnesses. The situation is further complicated when those seeking to lose weight generally have only glossy advertisements or testimonials to guide them to an appropriate source of help. To address this problem, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have evaluated major commercial diets and self-help weight loss programs, providing physicians and their overweight patients with the first comprehensive review of these resources. The article will appear in the January 3, 2005 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Adam Gilden Tsai, MD and Thomas A. Wadden, PhD, examined four types of programs: non medical, medically supervised, Internet-based, and organized self-help (e.g. Overeaters Anonymous). For each of the largest nationally based programs in these categories, the authors described the principal treatment components, staff qualifications, and costs (as determined from company websites and discussions with program representatives). The average weight loss for each program was determined by reviewing scientifically acceptable studies. The review examined only programs that required regular in-person or on-line contact.

“Our principal goal was to give health care providers sound information about the many weight loss programs available so they can advise their overweight patients,” said Dr. Tsai, Instructor of Medicine with the University’s Weight and Eating Disorders Program. “Physicians in busy primary care practices frequently do not have the time or training to provide needed weight loss counseling. We hope this review will serve to inform them of options in their community.”

Among non-medical commercial programs (including Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, and LA Weight Loss), the authors found that Weight Watchers was the most thoroughly tested. Participants in two studies lost approximately 5% of their initial weight (about 10 pounds) in three to six months. Attending Weight Watchers group meetings weekly for three months was estimated to cost $167. The costs for Jenny Craig and LA Weight Loss were substantially higher, and no scientifically acceptable evaluations of weight loss have been published.

Medically supervised plans, including Health Management Resources (HMR) and OPTIFAST, produced average losses of 15% - 25% of initial weight (about 30-50 pounds) in three to six months. These plans, which include the use of a liquid diet to replace all or most foods eaten, were estimated to cost $1700 - $2200 for the first three months. (This covered all medical care, group lifestyle counseling, and the liquid diet). “This approach may be appropriate for persons who have significant obesity-related health complications such as Type 2 Diabetes or hypertension,” commented Dr. Wadden, Director of Penn’s Weight and Eating Disorders Program. Enthusiasm, however, for this approach is limited by findings that people regain approximately 50% of lost weight one to two years after treatment. “Weight regain is a problem following all weight loss efforts, but particularly after this regimen,” Wadden noted.

The review revealed minimal scientific evidence to support the use of a new generation of Internet-based weight loss plans. “But we know additional studies are being conducted and, if found effective, the Internet could provide weight management to millions of Americans,” Tsai explained. Similarly there has been little evaluation of self-help programs, including Overeaters Anonymous and Take Off Pounds Sensibly (TOPS), that charge minimal or no fees. “Despite the lack of documented effectiveness, organized self-help approaches are an important option for persons who cannot afford commercial programs,” said Wadden.

The authors stated that all of the programs reviewed had undoubtedly been of help to some individuals. They hope their review will encourage health care providers and their patients to start talking about excess weight, even if commercial or self-help programs are not an option.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "Penn Researchers Evaluate Major Commercial Weight Loss Programs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 January 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/01/050111121418.htm>.
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. (2005, January 15). Penn Researchers Evaluate Major Commercial Weight Loss Programs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/01/050111121418.htm
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "Penn Researchers Evaluate Major Commercial Weight Loss Programs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/01/050111121418.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Predicting Heart Transplant Rejection With a Blood Test

Predicting Heart Transplant Rejection With a Blood Test

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Now a new approach to rejection of donor organs could change the way doctors predict transplant rejection…without expensive, invasive procedures. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Better Braces That Vibrate

Better Braces That Vibrate

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) The length of time you have to keep your braces on could be cut in half thanks to a new device that speeds up the process. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone App Tracks Your Heart Rate

Smartphone App Tracks Your Heart Rate

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) A new app that can track your heart rate 24/7 is available for download in your app store and its convenience could save your life. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stroke in Young Adults

Stroke in Young Adults

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) A stroke can happen at any time and affect anyone regardless of age. This mother chose to give her son independence and continue to live a normal life after he had a stroke at 18 years old. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins