A systematic review of the effectiveness of group versus individual treatments for adult obesity

Obes Facts. 2009;2(1):17-24. doi: 10.1159/000186144. Epub 2009 Feb 3.


Background: Both group and individual modes of delivery are employed for obesity treatments. Commercial weight loss groups commonly employ group-based delivery, while many clinical based settings employ one-to-one delivery. We systematically reviewed randomised controlled trials of treatments for adult obesity to compare the effectiveness of group-based to individual-based modes of treatment delivery.

Methods: We searched 7 electronic databases and 2 journals and reviewed secondary references, based on a priori criteria to systematically review: randomised controlled trials of obesity treatments, participants with BMI >or=28 kg/m(2), age >or=18 years, comparison groups including at least 1 group-based and 1 individual-based treatment group, and follow-up >or=1 year. We extracted data and conducted meta-analysis of weight change.

Results: Eleven comparison groups from 5 qualifying trials were obtained, representing a total participant pool of 336. Significantly greater (p = 0.03) weight change at 12 months was found in group-based over individualbased treatment, and sub-analyses showed that increased effectiveness was associated with the use of financial reward and psychologist-led interventions.

Conclusion: Group-based interventions were more effective than individual-based interventions among a predominantly female participant pool receiving psychologist-led interventions. Future studies to explore differences by professional group and interventions among men, which are accompanied by economic evaluation, are recommended.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Behavior Therapy / methods
  • Body Mass Index
  • Diet
  • Dietetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / methods
  • Social Support
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Loss