Ten things to ask when choosing weight loss programs online
Finding reliable weight loss programs online that follows American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology, and The Obesity Society guidelines can be challenging. One of the reasons is that programs advertised to help you lose weight do not always disclose important information. .
Johns Hopkins researchers recently looked at nearly 200 online weight loss programs to discover most programs don't follow guidelines. Given the cost of participation, the findings are important. All of these weight loss programs were advertised online.
What consumers need to know about diet programs
Researchers for this study wanted to find out if weight loss programs deliver what they claim.
It turns out only 9 percent of those contacted followed guidelines that include diet, behavioral strategies, exercise and FDA approved supplements.
Included in the study were national weight loss providers, independent facilities, and ones supervised by doctors or surgery centers.
Kimberly Gudzune, MD, MPH, who assisted with the research and is also a weight loss specialist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine said "Few community weight loss programs offer services that meet at least some of the key components of widely accepted weight loss guidelines."
Not all weight loss programs are unreliable
That's not to say all weight loss programs are worthless. Some stand out and have been proven time after time, including Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig.
Ten questions when choosing a weight loss program:
- How long have they been in business?
- Is the diet backed by scientific facts?
- Is counseling by phone, online or in person readily available?
- Does the program encourage behavior changes that you can continue lifelong?
- Is exercise included in the recommendations?
- Are dangerous supplements or medications that are not approved by the FDA offered? If so, steer clear.
- Is guidance provided by a nutritionist or registered dietitian?
- Is the program individualized to meet your personal needs?
- Does your doctor approve?
- Are there any hidden costs?
The finding highlights the need for revision when it comes to weight loss programs that fall short of meeting the recommended guidelines. If you're uncertain, talk with your physician for further guidance.