Commercial Weight Loss Programs in the Management of Obesity: an Update

Curr Obes Rep. 2021 Jun;10(2):90-99. doi: 10.1007/s13679-021-00428-y. Epub 2021 Feb 20.


Purpose of review: Comprehensive lifestyle programs are cornerstones of obesity management, but clinician referrals may be limited by program availability. Commercial weight loss programs may be an alternative, but clinicians may be unaware of their efficacy and safety. This review describes the evidence for commercial programs, particularly 12-month weight loss, among individuals with obesity.

Recent findings: Several programs are concordant with evidence-based recommendations (i.e., lower-calorie diet, increased physical activity, and behavioral strategies). Among the guideline-concordant programs, National Diabetes Prevention Program, WW, Jenny Craig, Medifast, and OPTIFAST have demonstrated 12-month weight loss efficacy and safety. While other programs show promise, more evidence is needed before clinician referral may be recommended. Clinical practice guidelines support referrals to commercial weight loss programs that have peer-reviewed evidence to support their efficacy and safety. Clinicians should consider the available evidence, patient preference, and cost when considering referrals to these programs for weight management.

Keywords: Obesity; Review; Treatment outcome; Weight reduction programs.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2
  • Diet*
  • Diet, Reducing
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Obesity / diet therapy*
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Loss
  • Weight Reduction Programs / methods*