Objective: Modest weight loss from clinical interventions improves glycemic control in type 2 diabetes (T2DM). Data are sparse on the effects of weight loss via commercial weight loss programs. This study examined the effects on glycemic control and weight loss of the standard Weight Watchers program, combined with telephone and email consultations with a certified diabetes educator (WW), compared with standard diabetes nutrition counseling and education (standard care, SC).
Methods: In a 12-month randomized controlled trial at 16 U.S. research centers, 563 adults with T2DM (HbA1c 7-11%; BMI 27-50 kg/m2 ) were assigned to either the commercially available WW program (regular community meetings, online tools), plus telephone and email counseling from a certified diabetes educator, or to SC (initial in-person diabetes nutrition counseling/education, with follow-up informational materials).
Results: Follow-up rate was 86%. Twelve-month HbA1c changes for WW and SC were -0.32 and +0.16, respectively; 24% of WW versus 14% of SC achieved HbA1c <7.0% (P = 0.004). Weight losses were -4.0% for WW and -1.9% for SC (Ps < 0.001). 26% of WW versus 12% of SC reduced diabetes medications (P < 0.001). WW participants had greater reductions in waist circumference (P < 0.001) and C-reactive protein (P = 0.02) but did not differ on other cardiovascular risk factors.
Conclusions: Widely available commercial weight loss programs with community and online components, combined with scalable complementary diabetes education, may represent accessible and effective components of management plans for adults with overweight/obesity and T2DM.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01601574.
© 2016 The Obesity Society.