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Weight Watchers Produces Bigger 'Losers' Than Standard Weight-Loss Care
Date:9/7/2011

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Dieters may be more likely to slim down if they are referred to a commercial program such as Weight Watchers than if they battle the bulge with primary health care providers alone, a new study finds.

Overweight adults in Germany, Australia and the United Kingdom who were referred to Weight Watchers by a primary health care provider lost about twice as much weight over a year as dieters assigned to standard weight-loss care, according to the study, which was funded by Weight Watchers and published Sept. 8 in The Lancet.

"The greater weight loss in participants assigned to the commercial program was accompanied by greater reductions in waist circumference and fat mass than in participants assigned to standard care, which would be expected to lead to a reduction in the risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease," the researchers said in a journal news release.

The study involved 772 overweight and obese adults who were randomly assigned to a year of diet care overseen by a primary care professional or to 12 months' free membership at a local Weight Watchers group.

Fifty-four percent of the standard-care dieters completed the 12-month study, compared to 61 percent of the Weight Watchers group.

Those who stuck with their standard diet lost an average of about 7 pounds, while those who attended Weight Watchers shed nearly 15 pounds on average. Also, the Weight Watchers participants were more than three times as likely to have dropped 5 percent or more of their body weight compared to the standard dieters, said the researchers.

A quarter of those randomly assigned to work with a primary care professional did lose 5 percent of their body weight, however -- a feat the researchers said confirmed the capability of primary care professionals to deliver the support and care needed for people to lose weight and keep it off during a year's time.

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