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Weight-loss schemes effective

By Christian Duffin

Weight-loss programmes focusing on diet, exercise and behaviour therapy are clinically and cost effective for overweight and obese people, but changes are typically small and weight regain is common, according to an NHS-funded evaluation.

UK researchers conducted a systematic review of 12 randomised controlled trials involving weight-loss programmes, and found that interventions were generally cost-effective, with estimates varying between £473 and £7200 per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) gained.

But they cautioned that it is difficult to define what degree of weight loss is deemed ‘clinically meaningful’, and pointed out that as there were no UK-based reviews in the study, and so further research is needed to determine the effects of these weight loss programmes in the UK.

Study leader Dr Emma Loveman, a senior research fellow at Southampton Health Technology Assessment Centre at the University of Southampton said: ‘It is difficult to establish what the core components of such programmes may need to be to maximise and sustain weight loss. With such complex interventions it is difficult to establish with any precision what the active ingredient or ingredients would be.’

Health Technol Assess 2011; 15(2)