Following the Weight Watchers program for a year helped people lose twice as much weight as following doctor's weight loss orders in a randomized trial, researchers reported Thursday in the journal The Lancet.
Primary care physicians in Australia, Germany and the U.K. recruited 772 overweight and obese adults. About half were assigned to 12 months of care from a doctor, according to their country's national treatment standards. The other 377 got a free yearlong membership to Weight Watchers.
Over the course of the year, researchers took measurements of the patients' weight, fat mass, waist circumference and blood pressure. Ultimately, 61% of the Weight Watchers group completed the 12 months; 54% of other doctor-treated groups did. The researchers compared the patients' weight loss using several different methods. On average, weight loss for the Weight Watchers members was 11.16 pounds, versus 4.96 pounds for the patients receiving standard care.
The greater weight loss in the Weight Watchers group led to greater reductions in waist circumference and fat mass, too, the authors wrote, suggesting that the program would also reduce risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.