Impact on psychosocial outcomes of a nationally available weight management program tailored for individuals with type 2 diabetes: Results of a randomized controlled trial

J Diabetes Complications. 2017 May;31(5):891-897. doi: 10.1016/j.jdiacomp.2017.01.022. Epub 2017 Feb 16.


Aims: Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) can substantially decrease quality of life (QOL). This study examined the effects on QOL-relevant psychosocial measures of a widely available commercial weight loss program enhanced for individuals with T2DM.

Methods: A year-long multi-site randomized clinical trial compared the Weight Watchers (WW) approach, supplemented with phone and email counseling with a certified diabetes educator (CDE), to brief standard diabetes nutrition counseling and education (Standard Care; SC). Participants were 400 women and 163 men (N=279 WW; 284 SC) with T2DM [mean (±SD) HbA1c 8.32±1%; BMI=37.1±5.7kg/m2; age=55.1 ± 9.1years]. Psychosocial outcomes were assessed at baseline, month 6, and month 12 using a diabetes specific psychosocial measure (Diabetes Distress Scale [DDS]), Impact of Weight on Quality of Life-Lite scale (IWQOL), a generic QOL measure (SF-36), and a depression screen (PHQ-9).

Results: WW participants showed significantly greater improvements than did SC participants on all DDS subscales and total score and on IWQOL total score and physical function, sex life and work domains (all ps<.05). There was no significant treatment effect on SF-36 scores or PHQ-9.

Conclusions: WW enhanced for individuals with T2DM was superior to SC in improving psychosocial outcomes most specific to T2DM and obesity. Available commercial WL programs, combined with scalable complementary program-specific diabetes counseling, may have benefits that extend to diabetes-related distress and weight-relevant QOL.

Keywords: Commercial weight loss programs; Diabetes; Diabetes distress; Psychosocial; Quality of life; Weight loss.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / psychology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / therapy*
  • Electronic Mail
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Obesity, Morbid / complications
  • Obesity, Morbid / psychology
  • Obesity, Morbid / therapy
  • Overweight / complications
  • Overweight / psychology
  • Overweight / therapy*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Psychosocial Support Systems*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Telemedicine*
  • Telephone
  • United States
  • Weight Loss
  • Weight Reduction Programs*
  • Young Adult