Recently a study was conducted to compare weight loss in people enrolling in a “commercial programme” with people trying to lose weight on their own. The study was done on 400 adults having Body Mass Index (BMI) ranging from 27-40 (people with a BMI around 25 to 29.9 are considered overweight and those with a BMI above 30 are considered obese). The participants were divided into a “commercial programme” group and a “self-help” group.
In the “self-help” group each participant met the dietician several times. They were provided some education material on healthy eating and exercise. The dietician also referred them to various other sources such as libraries, health organizations and health websites, which provided free weight loss information.
In the “commercial programme” group all participants were provided vouchers to attend events at a weight loss programme called “Weight Watchers”. This programme was designed to provide diet and exercise plans for gradual weight loss. The events were conducted on a weekly basis during which all the volunteers were weighed and given some education material along with social support. Hence, the participants also got a chance to personally interact with each other.
In both the groups, weight was checked every 2-3 months for a period of 2 years. Besides, the overall quality of life and other health parameters (such as blood cholesterol levels, blood pressure, blood sugar levels) were also monitored.
After 2 years it was found that approximately 50% of participants in the “commercial programme” group were able to reduce their BMI by at least a unit or ‘1’, whereas in the “self-help” group only 29% of the participants were able to lower their BMI. It was also observed that weight loss was more in participants who attended the Weight Watchers group meetings regularly as compared to those who came less frequently. Irrespective of their groups (i.e. self-help or commercial programme) the participants also showed an improvement in their health parameters and quality of life.
As this was only a single study it was not possible to decide which component (i.e. educational materials, food plans, weekly monitoring, or social support) of Weight Watchers was responsible for a higher success rate. However, the researchers observed that the participants did seem to benefit from the constant personal attention and the feedbacks they received at the group meetings. This somehow proves that achieving success in losing weight may be easier with constant support than trying to do it alone