Do commercial weight loss programs work? This one does.

October 12, 2010 by  
Filed under OBESITY

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When it comes to branded weight loss plans, the name Jenny Craig is quite well-known. But do these programs work?

Now, health experts are generally skeptical of any commercially promoted weight loss programs. But researchers at the University of California in San Diego actually worked with Jenny Craig representatives on a clinical trial and have recently published their results. The research group, led by Dr. Cheryl Rock, emphasized that one of the conditions they set when they were approached by the company was “full control of the data, analysis, and publication of the diet study, with the sponsor [Jenny Craig] having just a “minimal” role in the trial design.”

The study participants consisted of 442 women chosen by the researchers and not rerouted as part of any Jenny Craig program. The women were randomly assigned to one of the following:

  • an in-person center-based program
  • a telephone-based counseling program
  • a control program

The participants in the first 2 (intervention) groups were provided by Jenny Craig, free of charge, the following:

  • prepackaged food items
  • diet plan
  • counseling
  • physical activity plans

The food provided was especially healthy, with very little sodium but lots of fruit and vegetables.

The participants received financial compensation when:

  • they come to follow-up appointments.
  • they achieve substantial weight loss within one year.
  • keep off most the lost weight for another year.

The results of the trial, as published in a paper by Rock and her group showed:

However, when considering only those patients with bad lipid profile at the start of the study, the interventions showed significant improvements during the 1st year of follow-up.

The results showed that this particular weight loss program does work. According to Dr William S Yancy of the VA Medical Center in Durham, NC:

“This shows that this particular program is effective for weight loss. There’s a low dropout rate; it’s a long-term study, which is important; and the weight loss was significant and substantial. It basically verifies that the Jenny Craig program works, compared with what might be typically offered to a person who is seeking weight loss.”

The questions to be considered now are:

How does this type of weight loss program compare with other commercial diets such as Weight Watchers for example?

Is it time to compared different commercial diets head to head?

Would it be more economically sensible (and more worthwhile investment in health care) for health insurance companies to pay for effective weight loss programs than say, bariatric surgery, and other obesity-related health problems?

Dr. Yancy adds:

“You certainly won’t get an argument from me. For a weight loss of 10 kg at one year and then 7 kg maintained a year later, that’s pretty substantial. Surgery is going to be more than that, especially the more advanced surgeries, but with the surgeries that are being done more and more that are less involved—gastric banding, for example—the weight loss is not much more than this. . . . It seems incongruous that you would pay for surgery but not for a behavioral or other type of program that is nearly as effective and that has side effects that are pretty much nil compared with surgery. And you’d have a tough time attributing any mortality to this kind of program.”

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2 Responses to “Do commercial weight loss programs work? This one does.”
  1. Noticias NBA says:

    Well, I’ve found out that Yoga works to solve almost everything, from overweight (mostly because attacks what it causes it) to high pressure and even cholesterol.

  2. Pixie Gas says:

    There should be more focus on alternative, natural practices and medicines that have already been proven to work in other cultures.

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