Commercial weight-loss programs can make significant difference in overall health

New research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine finds that commercial weight-loss programs can offer significant weight loss after one year of participation when compared to a control group. Researchers led by Kimberly A. Gudzune, M D, MPH, found that participants achieved up to 4.9% mean total weight loss following one year of participation, which could be medically significant for many people with obesity or excess weight.

"A modest amount of weight loss can make a significant difference in overall health, particularly for individuals with obesity," says The Obesity Society (TOS) spokesperson and public affairs co-chair, Chris Ochner, PhD, FTOS, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. "Losing 10 to 15 pounds may not always meet an individual's weight-loss goals but can be enough to lead to meaningful reductions in health markers such as blood sugar and blood pressure."

According to the authors, many commercial programs show promising weight-loss results, but additional research is needed to better understand the long-term outcomes.

"Most diets are successful in the short-term, but more research is needed to understand how well commercial diet programs work over time," continued Dr. Ochner. "Long-term weight maintenance is key. Ultimately, the most effective diets are those that people can stick with the longest and that promote healthy eating for the rest of their lives."

The review found limited availability of randomized controlled trials for various models evaluated. Studies of only 11 of the 32 most popular commercial weight-loss programs available in the United States used this "gold standard" of scientific evaluation to reach their conclusions. Additionally, most trials were short (<12 months) and had high patient drop-out.

"While research shows the effectiveness of some of the more popular commercial weight-loss programs over time, it does not mean that other programs are not effective over the long-term," says Dr. Ochner. "They simply may not have been studied sufficiently in long-term trials to know whether they are effective at or beyond one year. In addition, given that the programs were not compared directly against one another using the same study and evaluation methods, this research should not be used to rank one program over another. "

TOS joins the authors in reinforcing the importance of evidence-based commercial weight-loss programs that can help individuals find the support they need to reach their weight-loss and health goals. Further, TOS recommends that those not successful in achieving results through diet and exercise alone seek the support of a weight-loss physician, or other qualified professional.

"Achieving success in weight loss can be extremely challenging, but there is hope," said Nikhil Dhurandhar, PhD, FTOS, TOS President and Chairman of the department of Nutritional Sciences, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX. "The obesity community continues to rely on weight-loss approaches that are shown to be effective in scientific studies. Additionally, we encourage obesity researchers to continue efforts to discover more effective ways to produce meaningful and lasting weight-loss results."


The Obesity Society


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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