Randomized controlled trial of a nationally available weight control program tailored for adults with type 2 diabetes

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2016 Nov;24(11):2269-2277. doi: 10.1002/oby.21616.


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.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Mass Index
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / therapy
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Counseling
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / therapy*
  • Electronic Mail
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A / metabolism
  • Health Education
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Overweight / therapy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Telephone
  • Waist Circumference
  • Weight Reduction Programs*
  • Young Adult


  • Blood Glucose
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Cholesterol

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01601574