Objective: The objective was to develop effective weight-loss methods for women who have had breast cancer, because obesity may result in an adverse prognosis.
Research methods and procedures: This randomized pilot study tested an individualized approach toward weight loss in obese women who have had a diagnosis of breast cancer. An individualized approach was applied either alone or combined with the commercial Weight Watchers program. Forty-eight women (body mass index of 30 to 44 kg/m(2)) were enrolled.
Results: Weight change after 12 months of intervention was as follows (mean +/- SD): 0.85 +/- 6.0 kg in the control group, -2.6 +/- 5.9 kg in the Weight Watchers group, -8.0 +/- 5.5 kg in the individualized group, and -9.4 +/- 8.6 kg in the comprehensive group that used both individualized counseling and Weight Watchers. Weight loss relative to control was statistically significant in the comprehensive group 3, 6, and 12 months after randomization, whereas weight loss in the individualized group was significant only at 12 months. Weight loss of 10% or more of initial body weight was observed in 6 of 10 women in the comprehensive group at 12 months. In the comprehensive and Weight Watchers-only groups, weight loss was significantly related to frequency of attendance at Weight Watchers meetings, and attendance was more frequent in the comprehensive group.
Discussion: These data indicate that the most weight loss was achieved when the counseling approach combined both Weight Watchers and individualized contacts. This was effective even though most of the individualized contacts were by telephone.