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Philadelphia, March 3, 2015 -- Physicians looking for an
effective commercial weight-loss program for their overweight and
obese patients may want to recommend Weight Watchers or Jenny
Craig. According to an updated evidence review of 11 commercial
weight-loss programs, only Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig showed
evidence for effective long-term weight loss. The review
is published in Annals of Internal Medicine.
More than one-third of U.S. adults are obese. The U.S.
Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that clinicians
screen all adults for obesity and offer or refer overweight or
obese patients to intensive, multi-component behavioral
interventions for weight loss. Several commercial weight loss
programs meet the recommended criteria, but their efficacy is
Researchers reviewed published research to compare weight loss,
adherence, and harms of 11 commercial or proprietary weight loss
programs. All of the programs studied emphasized nutrition and
behavioral counseling or social support components with or without
physical activity. Of those, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig,
Nutrisystem, Health Management Resources, Medifast, OPTIFAST,
Atkins, The Biggest Loser Club, eDiets, Lose It!, and SlimFast had
trials that met inclusion criteria.
The researchers found that only Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers
showed evidence that they helped people lose weight and then keep
it off for twelve months or more. Other popular programs, such as
NutriSystem, showed promising weight-loss results in the
short-term, but additional research is needed to determine
The author of an accompanying editorial is not surprised that
highly structured programs with in-person social support, such as
Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig, seem more effective but cautions
that weight loss with such programs is modest and likely below
patients' expectations. These unrealistic expectations may affect
patients' willingness to adhere to any program.
About Annals of Internal MedicineAnnals of Internal
Medicine is one of the most widely cited peer-reviewed
medical journals in the world. The journal has been published for
88 years and accepts only about 7 percent of the original research
studies submitted for publication. Annals of Internal
Medicine has a 2013 impact
factor of 16.104, ranking it fifth out of 150 journals in the
category "Medicine, General & Internal." The journal is
published by the American College of Physicians (ACP). Follow
Annals on Twitter and Facebook.
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