Community weight loss programmes should be more widely available

Community weight loss programmes, such as Weight Watchers, are effective at helping people to lose weight, according to research published in The Lancet.

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A study published in this weeks issue of The Lancet  found that a three-month weight loss programme helps people lose weight, but a one-year programme helps people lose more weight for longer and reduces their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The paper suggests that wider availability of these programmes could help people avoid metabolic diseases, such as diabetes, and may save the NHS money in the long run.

In the study the authors compared the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of three treatment options: referral to Weight Watchers for three months, referral to Weight Watchers for one year, and a brief intervention (one-off advice together with a self-help booklet).

1,267 overweight or obese adults from 23 GP clinics across the UK were recruited and randomly allocated to one of the three interventions. Over a two-year follow-up, those who were referred to Weight Watchers lost more weight than those who were in the self-help group. And those in the one-year programme lost more weight than those in the three-month programme.

At two years, all groups had regained some of the weight, but those given a year-long programme were still lighter than the other groups.

Full reference: Ahern, A.L. et al. Extended and standard duration weight-loss programme referrals for adults in primary care (WRAP): a randomised controlled trial. The Lancet. Published online 03 May 2017

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