Study: Partnership Between Primary Care Physicians and Weight Watchers can be a Powerful Combo

The dramatic power of a doctor's referral to Weight Watchers.
Study Partnership Between Primary Care Physicians and Weight Watchers can be a Powerful Combo

It’s a well-known fact that obesity and obesity-related conditions are on the rise all over the world. The World Health Organization estimates that one billion people worldwide are currently overweight and more than 300 million are obese. And excess weight in adults accounts for 44% of the global burden of diabetes, 23% of ischemic heart disease and between 7% and 41% of certain cancers.

Doctors and healthcare systems, straining to respond to this crisis, are urging patients to lose weight. And today, we’re excited to announce that a global study* published in leading medical journal The Lancet has indicated that when overweight and obese patients were referred to Weight Watchers by their doctor, they lost more than twice as much weight when compared to those who only received standard care from their physician over a 12-month period.

Stats in this study also suggest that with Weight Watchers, participants were three times more likely to lose 10% or more of their initial body weight compared to those referred to standard care. Losing 10% of body weight has been shown to reduce risk factors for diabetes and heart disease, so losing weight isn’t just about the way you look; it affects your overall health, too.

Behavior changes that last

In the study, the participants assigned to standard care reported attending one appointment per month, predominantly with a primary care healthcare professional; the participants assigned to Weight Watchers reported attending Weight Watchers three times per month.

Karen Miller-Kovach, Chief Scientific Officer for Weight Watchers, says this reinforces the importance of group support for behavior changes that last and, of course, for sustainable weight loss. “The discrepancy in time spent between patients assigned to the two treatments suggests that those referred to Weight Watchers were able to be much more engaged and benefitted from the intense support the weekly meetings provided and made them feel more accountable for their weight-loss efforts,” she says.

She adds that this proves what Weight Watchers has believed for some time: That Weight Watchers can be a really effective complement to usual primary care. “It seems that there is something very powerful in health professionals and Weight Watchers working together that really works for patients,” she adds.

The Weight Watchers approach teaches you to develop lifelong good habits through a structured program. And Weight Watchers meetings can help members find motivation from within their group, tapping into a community that’s centered on getting healthy and losing weight.

*The trial was funded by Weight Watchers International but run as an investigator-led trial, with protocol development, all data collection and analysis undertaken by the research team with no input from Weight Watchers.

For more information, including more details on how the trial was performed, take a look at the official press release.
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