With a third of the American public overweight or obese, physicians are in a prime spot for encouraging weight loss during scheduled visits. However, physicians are often unclear of which weight loss programs to recommend for long term weight loss success. The benefits of weight loss are enhanced by the positive side effects that weight loss often brings- lowering of blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure, and lowering the risk of developing diabetes. As these side effects do not persist if the person regains the weight, recommending a method of weight loss that has proven long term success is crucial for physicians and patients.
Unfortunately, there is a lack of quality studies that assess long term success for commercial weight loss programs. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University set out to assemble a comprehensive review of available studies to determine the most scientifically promising weight loss programs in hopes for physicians to have evidence to recommend specific programs to their patients. Out of a possible 4200 studies focusing on weight loss program outcomes, only 39 met the quality standards to be included in the analysis, which called for randomized controlled trials that lasted a minimum of 12 weeks. 11 different weight loss programs were assessed in the 39 studies, including Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, Jenny Craig, the Biggest Loser Club, eDiets, SlimFast, MediFast, Atkins, HMR, and Optifast.
The researchers found mixed results and a lack of studies lasting long enough to have evidence of long term weight loss success. The analysis showed the top two most effective commercial weight loss programs for long term weight loss were Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig. Researchers warn that although the studies do demonstrate increased weight loss in the commercial weight loss programs over the control groups, the weight loss remained “modest” at 3-5% more than the control group. As an example, if the control group lost an average of 20 pounds, the commercial weight loss programs group may have lost only 1 additional pound.
For moderately and severely obese patients, this 3-5% additional weight may not be enough to offset the negative effects of the weight on their health. For those individuals unable to maintain weight loss long term and those with comorbidities such as diabetes, sleep apnea, and heart conditions such as hypertension and hypercholesterolemia, weight loss surgeries such as lap band, gastric sleeve, and gastric bypass should be considered as a tool for long term weight loss.
If you are considering weight loss surgery, please call Dr. Shillingford’s South Florida office at (561) 483-8840 to arrange a free informational meeting discussing lap bands, gastric sleeve, and gastric bypass surgeries.