Science Center

Weight Watchers vs. self-help in the United States

A randomized controlled trial in 292 adults (89.1% female, 47.6y, BMI 33.4 kg/m2) found that those in the Weight Watchers (WW) meetings and digital tools group lost significantly more weight after 6 months than those trying to lose weight on their own (aka self-help). 

This 2013 study published in the American Journal of Medicine found that those in the WW group lost 10.1 lbs, and those in self-help lost approximately 1.3 lbs, after 6 months. What’s more: Those in the WW group were 8 times more likely to achieve 5% weight loss and 8.8 times more likely to achieve 10% weight loss at 6 months than the self-help group.

Among the WW group, those that were more engaged lost a greater amount of weight. WW has three access points: weekly meetings, weightwatchers.com member website, and the WW tracking app. 

Participants who used all three access modes to a high degree—defined as attended at least 12 out of 24 meetings and used the website and app at least twice a week—had significantly greater weight losses than those who used 2, 1, or 0 modes of access.  Comparatively, those who used 1 or 2 access modes lost significantly more weight than those who did not use any of the WW access points to a high degree.  

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Source: Johnson CA, et al. A randomized controlled trial of a community-based behavioral counseling program. Am J Med. 2013;126:1143.e19-1143.e24

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