Weight-loss programs are perennially popular for many trying to shed pounds. But do all of them work? A new study finds that people who join the national nonprofit weight loss organization Take Off Pounds Sensibly lost a modest amount of weight over the course of a year, but by sticking with the program they tended to keep it off.
The study focused on people who joined TOPS in 2005, 2006 and 2007 (TOPS allowed researchers access to member data and provided administrative support but did not fund the study). The participants were divided into two groups: those who renewed their membership each year, and those who had nonconsectutive memberships, allowing their membership to lapse before signing up again. Weight in both groups was tracked. The vast majority (95%) of study subjects were women. Their average starting weight was about 216 pounds, and for men about 269 pounds.
In the course of the study, 42,481 people renewed their memberships at least once. That included 2,427 people who renewed nonconsecutively.
Those who kept up with the program in consecutive years lost an average 5.9% to 7.1% of their starting body weight, and kept that weight off for two years. People who were on and off the program lost less weight overall.