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Experts Assess What Works for Weight Loss
Date:10/4/2011

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY , Oct. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Weight loss programs that focus on changing behaviors, as well as those that combine behavior changes and weight-loss medications such as orlistat (Alli, Xenical), can help people shed pounds, according to a new review.

"We found behaviorally based weight loss programs are generally effective for weight loss," said Dr. Erin LeBlanc, an investigator for Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore.

LeBlanc declined to mention particular behavioral intervention programs by name. However, components of commercial programs such as Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and others include group support, encouragement of physical activity, setting of goals and other strategies.

The study is published in the Oct. 4 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

LeBlanc and her colleagues were asked by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) -- a federal government panel that routinely issues guidelines on various medical issues -- to look at evidence on the effectiveness of various weight loss interventions. In 2003, the USPSTF recommended that doctors screen all adults for obesity and offer behavioral interventions for those who are obese -- people with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above.

The USPSTF hopes to update those recommendations, so it asked LeBlanc's group to revisit the issue, looking over the newest data.

In all, the team reviewed 58 published trials involving overweight adults. Some had received behavioral treatment only, while some got behavioral treatment plus weight-loss medication.

Use of behavior-based weight loss programs resulted in people dropping an average 6.6 more pounds over 12 to 18 months than if they had attempted to slim down without such programs, the researchers reported. People who went to 12 to 26 intervention sessions during the first year on such programs lost
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