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Asking which program is best is a trick question. Probably less, however, since you will be making better choices. Yes, I said anything. Indeed, some states are already experimenting with sending their Medicaid patients to Weight Watchers, the only program that was endorsed in the review. Weight Watchers teaches you how to select and prepare nutritionally balanced and properly proportioned meals from day one. The researchers say "Nutrisystem shows promise, but the lack of long-term [randomized clinical trials] precludes definitive conclusions. The Zone diet was not reviewed because unlike other weight-loss plans in the study, Zone does not include any behavioral or social support.
Pros and Cons of the Programs
But before sinking serious money into a weight-loss program that may involve spending hundreds of dollars on packaged meals, nutrition shakes, or counseling sessions, it pays to see which ones are most effective in the long run. A new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins, published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, reviewed clinical trials on some of the most popular commercial weight-loss programs, including Weight Watchers , Jenny Craig , and Nutrisystem , along with some like Medifast and OPTIFAST that promote more extreme calorie restrictions and meal replacements.
Out of 4, studies, they found only a few dozen met the scientific "gold standard" of reliability. Just a small number of diet plans were supported by data establishing that participants, on average, lost more weight after one year than people who were either dieting on their own, got printed health information, or received other nutrition education and counseling sessions. One key thing the most successful plans had in common: They really integrate a group approach," medical contributor Dr.
Click through to see how the different diet plans stack up. The oldest and best-known commercial diet plan -- and the biggest, with 45 percent market share -- Weight Watchers also has a proven track record in clinical trials. The Johns Hopkins researchers found that "Weight Watchers participants consistently have greater weight loss" than people in who try dieting on their own, "and sustain it beyond 12 months.
Weight Watchers is what the researchers considered a "high intensity" program, meaning it requires attending at least 12 sessions a year. But it's also one of the lowest-cost options in the study.
An editorial accompanying the study in the Annals of Internal Medicine says, "Programs that help patients restrict calories with a structured approach to making healthier, real-world dietary choices, such as Weight Watchers, may fare better over the long term than programs that rely solely on prepackaged meals or supplements, but this would need to be confirmed in future studies.
Jenny Craig also fared well in the study overall. Participants lost a few more pounds than those on Weight Watchers, but spent more money to do so. A review of clinical trials found that after one year, people who followed the Jenny Craig program lost at least 4.
Unlike Weight Watchers, the Jenny Craig plan requires participants to buy specially-packaged meals and snacks, making this plan more expensive. Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers were the two diet plans the researchers suggested doctors recommend to patients who need to lose weight. Nutrisystem also appears to be one of the more effective commercial weight loss programs reviewed in the study.
However, the clinical trials on Nutrisystem lasted only 3 to 6 months, so its longer-term effectiveness is not as clear. People on the Nutrisystem plan achieved at least 3. The researchers say "Nutrisystem shows promise, but the lack of long-term [randomized clinical trials] precludes definitive conclusions. Are extreme low-cal plans a good bet? They rely on low-cal meal-replacement products like bars or shakes to promote faster short-term weight loss.
Participants consume just to 1, calories a day on these plans, resulting in at least 4 percent more weight loss than people who got counseling alone. However, the benefits diminished by the 6-month mark, and researchers say more long-term studies are needed. Programs based on the low-carb Atkins diet also helped people lose more weight than counseling alone -- but not as much as with some competing diet programs. Still, the approach "appears promising," the authors write.
This content has not been reviewed within the past year and may not represent WebMD's most up-to-date information. To find the most current information, please enter your topic of interest into our search box. MONDAY, April 6, HealthDay News -- Many people turn to commercial weight-loss programs to help them shed excess pounds, but there's surprisingly little scientific evidence to show whether or not these plans can help keep weight off for the long-term, a new report reveals. Only two out of 32 major commercial weight-loss programs marketed nationwide -- Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig -- can boast scientific evidence showing their clients maintain weight loss for at least a year, the researchers found.
Most programs haven't received any study at all regarding their effectiveness, or have only been reviewed for short-term success, said lead author Dr. She is an assistant professor of medicine and a weight-loss specialist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.
The study, which was not funded by any commercial weight-loss plan, is published in the April 7 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. Gudzune and several of her co-authors reported receiving support from the U. The obesity crisis prompted the study, as doctors weigh the various options on hand to help their patients lose weight , Gudzune said.
Two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight or obese, increasing their risk for high blood pressure , heart disease and type 2 diabetes , the study authors pointed out. Nutrisystem has about 14 percent of the market, while Jenny Craig has about 13 percent, the study said. While these plans are popular, doctors don't have a lot of information regarding which show real and sustained results, Gudzune said.
Gudzune and her colleagues reviewed 4, studies. They were only able to find randomized, controlled trials considered the "gold-standard" for medical research for 11 of the 32 major weight-loss programs. Of those 11, only Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig had gone through studies showing that people not only lost weight but kept it off for at least a year, researchers found.