SATURDAY, Oct. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Two new studies support the notion that structured diet and exercise plans -- and perhaps some free prepared meals -- can help the obese and severely obese lose weight.
Both studies used prepackaged meals in their protocols, with one utilizing the Jenny Craig program. That study was funded by Jenny Craig.
"Physicians should be aware that lifestyle changes actually do work. . . [and] they could refer people to this or another program and be optimistic [that although] this is not a magic bullet, people have to adhere," said Cheryl Rock, lead author of the Jenny Craig study, which appears with the other study in the Oct. 27 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Rock reported being on the Jenny Craig advisory board in 2003 and 2004.
Also encouraging, she added, is the fact that participants had not gained the weight back by the end of two years.
"This shows the promise of lifestyle interventions and I think people [have been] really discouraged," said Marcia G. Ory, director of the Aging and Health Promotion Program at Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health in College Station.
But, she cautioned, "the real question is does it work in the real world and will it sustain, not just in the real world but through a person's life."
Other outside experts also expressed cautionary notes, especially given that such structured plans can not only be difficult to adhere to but also expensive.
"I think we're looking at a best-case scenario," said obesity researcher Rena Wing, author of an editorial accompanying the Jenny Craig article. "Perhaps we need to be studying how to pay for the programs."
"Right now, obesity disproportionately affects lower-income individuals and minorities, and those individuals may not be able to afford commercial programs. So we need to see whet
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