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New Study Reveals Top Weight Loss Programs - Maybe

Tim Boyer's picture
Top Weight Loss Programs

So you’ve decided that it’s time to get some help for achieving weight loss by enrolling in one of the several weight loss programs. But which one? Here’s what scientists have recently determined to be among the top weight loss programs that you can try with some prediction of how much success to expect.


Researchers from the John Hopkins University recently published their findings on how commercial weight loss programs compare between each other based against dieters who tried to lose weight on their own with only a minimum of external assistance limited to printed educational materials on weight loss and some behavioral counseling.

The data was gleaned from published medical literature available through the Medline database and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Out of a little over 4,000 studies related to commercial diet programs, the researchers determined that only 45 provided data sufficient enough―such as randomized trials and patient follow-ups―to be used in their analysis.

A total of 11 commercial weight loss programs were compared from the selected studies—some of which include the more popular and longer-lasting programs such as Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig. The purpose of the study was to determine—if possible—just how effective these weight loss programs really are from a studied view as opposed to marketing hype and consumer expectations.

What the researchers found was that:

Atkins resulted in 0.1% to 2.9% greater weight loss at 12 months than counseling.

• At 12 months, Weight Watchers participants achieved at least 2.6% greater weight loss than those assigned to control/education.

Nutrisystem resulted in at least 3.8% greater weight loss at 3 months than control/education and counseling.

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• Very-low-calorie programs such as Health Management Resources, Medifast, and OPTIFAST resulted in at least 4.0% greater short-term weight loss than counseling; however, the resulting weight loss became less beyond 6 months.

Jenny Craig resulted in at least 4.9% greater weight loss at 12 months than control/education and counseling.

While the results may appear to show some expectation that some programs are better than others from the numbers calculated, the researchers point out that there are several limitations to the studies available for analysis that could affect the data; and, equally important, is the lack of any of the programs studied providing meaningful weight loss data that goes beyond one year. This is especially poignant as many dieters face regaining lost weight—if not more—following their diet program.

However, their conclusion is that it may still be beneficial for doctors to recommend dieting programs to their patients as even a small percent reduction from their initial base line weight can have a positive and significant effect on health.

For more about weight loss programs, click-on the following links to learn more about how other comparisons rated which were considered the most effective for weight loss:

Which Dieting Method Works Best for Losing 20 Pounds?

Practical Weight Loss Advice on the Best Diet Plans for 2015

US News and World Report Recommends Top Diets for 2015

Reference: “Efficacy of Commercial Weight-Loss Programs: An Updated Systematic Review Efficacy of Commercial Weight-Loss Programs” Ann Intern Med. 2015; 162 (7):501-512.; Kimberly A. Gudzune, MD, MPH et al.