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Commercial weight loss services ‘more effective than GPs’

Commercial weight management services are more effective and cheaper than primary care-based services, a randomised controlled trial has found.

Researchers randomly allocated 740 obese or overweight patients with one co-morbidity to either a commercially-provided services – provided by Weightwatchers, Slimming World or Rosemary Conley – one of six primary care interventions, for 12 weeks. Another group was allowed to choose between the six interventions.

A comparator group was given weekly vouchers for a local leisure centre and all patients were followed up for a year. All programmes achieved significant weight loss and all except GP- and pharmacy-led counselling achieved significant weight loss at one year. Only patients on the commercial programmes had significantly greater weight loss than those given leisure centre vouchers after 12 weeks, with a mean difference of 1.41 to 2.24 kg loss

Patients allowed a choice of intervention did not have better outcomes than those allocated randomly to programmes. Study leader Dr Kate Jolly, senior lecturer in public health and epidemiology at the University of Birmingham said: 'Commercially-provided weight management services are more effective and cheaper than specially-trained primary care-based services. Choosing a weight loss programme does not enhance effectiveness.'

European Congress on Obesity 2011, presented 25 May

Commercial weight loss services 'more effective than GPs'

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