Overweight patients who take part in the Weight Watchers programme are eight times more likley to lose 5% of their body weight after six months compared to those simply given self-help materials, according to the first 'real-world' evaluation of the latest version of the programme.
US researchers randomised 292 participants, mainly women, who had a mean age of about 46 years and a mean BMI of 33. About three quarters were deemed obese.
Those in the Weight Watchers group were given free access to the full programme which now includes weekly meetings, mobile apps and an online progress tracker.
Their weight loss was compared to those in the self-help arm who received printed materials about weight-loss strategies as well as links to web-based resources and telephone numbers of health-promotion organisations offering free weight-control information.
At 6 months, participants in the Weight Watchers study arm were eight times more likely to lose 5% and 8.8 times more likely to lose 10% of their weight than participants in the self-help study arm.
The authors say their findings suggest Weight Watchers is effective in promoting significant weight loss and a viable referral choice for obese patients,