Study: It Takes a Village to Lose Weight


Dieters needs support to lose weight. A new study by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine, published on Oct. 15 in the American Journal of Medicine, indicated that participants in a community based weight loss program obtained better results versus those trying to do it on their own. 

Individuals in programs like Weight Watchers lost an average 10.1 pounds over six months. People who tried to lose weight solo lost 1.3 pounds. 

The 147 who were assigned to the Weight Watchers program were eight times more likely than solo dieters to lose 5 percent of their total weight. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the five percent threshold is important because it is enough to reduce health risks. 

Those in the Weight Watchers program were given three tools, called access routes. They were group meetings, mobile applications and online tools. The more these three access routes were used simultaneously, the more weight people lost. Meeting attendance was the strongest indicator of weight loss compared to the other access routes.

“This study would suggest that those who piece together a weight loss program for themselves by using things such as Internet-based information, cheap or free mobile apps and social media support are unlikely to have the same success as those following the Weight Watchers approach,” said Karen Miller-Kovach, MS, RD, Co-Chief Scientific Officer at Weight Watchers International, Inc. and co-author of the study, in a press release.

According to the National Institutes of Health over 70 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. 

The U.S. Preventive Service Task Force (USPSTF) advises that primary care physicians should offer or refer obese patients for Intensive Behavioral Therapy (IBT) under the Affordable Care Act.

“With the obesity epidemic we are facing as a nation, it’s imperative that primary care physicians and other providers follow the requirements of the Affordable Care Act by screening their patients for obesity and providing or referring those who are obese with intensive behavioral interventions,” said co-author John P. Foreyt, Ph.D., professor and director of the Behavioral Medicine Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine, in a press release.

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