Most studies suggest Weight Watchers is effective. None have evaluated the new PointsPlus program, which replaced the Points program that preceded it. But the new system is not different enough from the old to negate previous findings.
Here’s what several key studies had to say about Weight Watchers:
- Short-term weight loss is a reasonable goal. Researchers compared the effectiveness of four commercial weight loss programs (Atkins, Weight Watchers, Slim Fast, and Eat Yourself Slim) in overweight or obese adults. After four weeks, Weight Watchers dieters were down an average of 6 pounds, compared with 10 pounds for Atkins, 6 for Slim Fast, and 7 for Eat Yourself Slim. After that first month of the six-month study, dieters continued to lose weight, with no significant differences in weight loss among the groups. The findings were published in the British Medical Journal in 2006.
- Evidence on long-term weight loss is promising, too. In an analysis of more than 600 Weight Watchers participants, researchers found that nearly 60 percent stayed within 5 pounds of their goal weight one year after completing the program, according to a study published in theBritish Journal of Nutrition in 2008. That number dropped to 45 percent two years after program completion and 37 percent five years later, suggesting Weight Watchers is not only an effective way to lose weight but also reasonably effective at keeping it off.
- Weight Watchers is more effective than standard weight-loss guidance, according to a study published in 2011 in the Lancet. Researchers tracked 772 overweight and moderately obese people who either followed Weight Watchers or got weight-loss guidance from their primary care doctors. After a year, those in the Weight Watchers group had dropped 15 pounds compared with 7 pounds for the doctor-advised group. What’s more, 61 percent of the Weight Watchers dieters stuck with the program for the full 12 months the study lasted, compared with 54 percent for the standard-care group. The program’s success is likely explained by its regular weigh-ins and group meetings, which hold dieters accountable while offering support and motivation. The study was funded by Weight Watchers, but an independent research team was responsible for all data collection and analysis.
- Another study, published in 2011 in the British Medical Journal, found that people lost more weight—and saved money—when they enrolled in a commercial weight-loss program as opposed to a primary care-based program. After 12 weeks, Weight Watchers participants had lost 9.8 pounds; those on a primary care-guided plan had dropped 3 pounds.
- After comparing the menus of eight popular commercial weight-loss programs, researchers praised Weight Watchers’ emphasis on fruits, vegetables, and foods high in whole grains and low in trans fats. The program also got high marks for providing ample fiber, which helps dieters feel fuller for longer, thus promoting weight loss, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association in 2007.
- The program’s emphasis on support helps its effectiveness—if you go to the group meetings. Weight Watchers dieters who attended the most weekly group sessions over a two-year period, rather than routinely skipping the meetings, kept the most weight off, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2005. About half the participants stopped attending weekly meetings within the first six weeks, and 70 percent stopped within 12 weeks.
- A 2012 study compared Weight Watchers to professionally-directed weight-loss treatments. It found that dieters stuck with traditional Weight Watchers longer and were more likely to lose weight than they were with other approaches. Nearly 150 overweight or obese men and women were assigned to one of three groups: a behavioral weight-loss treatment led by a health professional; Weight Watchers, whose groups are led by peer counselors; or a hybrid program that started with 12 weeks of behavioral weight-loss treatment, followed by 36 weeks of Weight Watchers. All programs lasted a total of 48 weeks. People in all three groups lost weight, but on average, Weight Watchers dieters lost a little more than 13 pounds, compared with a little less than 12 pounds for those in the professionally led group, and nearly 8 pounds for those in the combination group.
This article is taken from http://health.usnews.com