Behavioral Programs Increase Weight Loss in Adults With Obesity

HealthDay News — A weight-management group behavioral program is more effective than an intervention comprising brief advice and self-help materials, according to a study published online in The Lancet.

Amy L. Ahern, PhD, from MRC Human Nutrition Research in Cambridge, UK, and colleagues randomized participants aged 18 years or older with a BMI of 28 kg/m² or higher from primary care practices to brief advice and self-help materials (211 participants), a weight-management program (Weight Watchers) for 12 weeks (528 participants), or the same program for 52 weeks (528 participants).

The researchers found that the mean weight changes at one year were -3.26 kg in the brief intervention, -4.75 kg in the 12-week program, and -6.76 kg in the 52-week program. Significantly greater weight loss was seen in the behavioral program versus the brief intervention (-2.71 kg); the 52-week program was significantly more effective than the 12-week program (-2.14 kg). At 2 years, the differences between the groups were still significant. There were no reports of adverse events related to the intervention. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio compared to the brief intervention was £159 and £91/kg lost for the 52- and 12-week programs, respectively, over 2 years.

“For adults with overweight or obesity, referral to this open-group behavioral weight-loss program for at least 12 weeks is more effective than brief advice and self-help materials,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the weight-loss industry. Some study funding was provided by Weight Watchers.

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  1. Ahern AL, Wheeler GM, Aveyard P, et al. Extended and standard duration weight-loss programme referrals for adults in primary care (WRAP): a randomised controlled trial [published online May 3, 2017]. The Lancet. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(17)30647-5
  2. Brindal E. Weight management programmes of extended duration [published online May 3, 201]. The Lancet. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(17)31042-5