Weight Loss and Better Health: The Approach Makes Pounds of Difference

Right now, I’m attending the annual Cleveland Clinic Innovation Summit, which is focused this year on obesity, diabetes and the metabolic crisis.  Speakers have addressed in detail the linkage between body weight and the chronic diseases – diabetes, heart disease, cancer – that are the leading drivers of healthcare cost increases.

While these important discussions are taking place in Cleveland, an important development on this front was presented to the public on the pages of the American Journal of Medicine.  A study by the Baylor School of Medicine (Baylor is a Healthcare Leadership Council member) presented clear evidence on how individuals can more effectively lose weight.

The study found that people enrolled in community-based weight loss programs offered by Weight Watchers (also a Healthcare Leadership Council member) were much more successful in shedding pounds than those who took a do-it-yourself approach.  Among the findings:

•    At six months, the test group assigned to the Weight Watchers program lost an average of 10.1 pounds.  Those who were sent home with dietary and exercise self-help materials lost an average of 1.3 pounds.

•    Those who engaged in Weight Watchers were eight times more likely to achieve at least a five percent weight loss than those doing it on their own.

•    Participants who engaged with Weight Watchers through all three available avenues – in-person meetings, mobile applications and online tools – experienced the greatest weight loss.

This is a significant study, particularly given our national imperative to achieve a greater degree of population wellness.  We now have compelling evidence that weight loss is more effectively achieved when individuals can utilize the expertise provided by an organization like Weight Watchers and when there is a social support mechanism to the weight loss effort.

Or, as Weight Watchers co-chief scientific officer Karen Miller-Kovach, MS, RD, put it, “Multiple access routes to engage with a proven weight loss approach make a measurable difference.”