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Its official: Most weight loss programs don’t work

By Marcus Santer

Here’s an interesting Monday Morning fact for you:

Two thirds of adults say they’ve tried to lose weight.

And another:

The weight-loss program industry was estimated to be a $2.5 billion dollar a year business in 2014 and is expected to grow.

And with obesity screening and counselling becoming more accessible it’s expected that more medical experts will be referring their patients to weight loss programs and services in the coming years.

Which is why experts at John Hopkins Medicine decided to take a look at the evidence available for the effectiveness of such programs and services.

The researchers reviewed 4,200 studies looking for proof of commercial weight-loss programs.

Their findings?

  1. Less than 30 of the studies were scientific enough to be considered reliable.
  2. Only 11 weight loss programs met the gold standard for medical research: Randomised control trials
  3. Of the few reliable trials lasting 12 months or longer, those who took part achieved modest, sustained weight loss.

And that’s the point isn’t it?

Sustained weight loss.

As study co-author Jeanne Clark, MD, MPH said:

“Losing weight for three months, then regaining it has limited health benefits. That’s why it’s important to have studies that look at weight loss at 12 months and beyond.”

And the verdict?

Based on the analysis of their study here’s what the researchers found:

Other programs worthy of mention were:

  1. NutriSystem which resulted in more weight loss than counselling or education alone – but there are no studies on the long term effectiveness of this system.
  2. Very low calorie meal replacement programs helped participants lose more weight than non-participants in trials lasting four to six months. But there was only one long term study done and it showed no benefit at 12 months. Plus there are concerns about the health risks associated with this type of approach.
  3. High in fat, low in carbs programs based on the Atkins diet helped participants lose more weight at 6 and 12 months than counselling alone.

No concrete conclusions could be made on Slim-Fast or Internet based programs.

Moving on…

One of the facts of the study I found of great interest was the costs involved with commercial weight loss programs.

$570 to $682 per month for the systems based on replacement meals.

That seems really expensive to me.

The other item of interest was just how few of the studies reviewed met high scientific standards. I find that rather bizarre. Because what’s the point in doing a study if it’s not rigorous enough for whatever conclusions you reach to be worth anything?

Anyway, if you want to read the study you can find it here.

Personally, I’d like to see a similar review of the studies showing the long term effectiveness of:

  1. Avoiding processed food
  2. Eating less
  3. Focusing on veggies and good fats

All things I follow based on my own research and which I recommend in the N part of ZEN+ (Nutrition).

But remember ZEN+ isn’t just about losing weight and staying lean, it’s a blueprint for living a happier, healthier and longer life in all its aspects:

  1. Physically
  2. Emotionally
  3. Mentally
  4. Spiritually

You can find out more here.

Bye for now

Marcus