Efficacy of a Commercial Weight Management Program Compared With a Do-It-Yourself Approach: A Randomized Clinical Trial

JAMA Netw Open. 2022 Aug 1;5(8):e2226561. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.26561.

Abstract

Importance: Given the prevalence of obesity, accessible and effective treatment options are needed to manage obesity and its comorbid conditions. Commercial weight management programs are a potential solution to the lack of available treatment, providing greater access at lower cost than clinic-based approaches, but few commercial programs have been rigorously evaluated.

Objective: To compare the differences in weight change between individuals randomly assigned to a commercial weight management program and those randomly assigned to a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach.

Design, setting, and participants: This 1-year, randomized clinical trial conducted in the United States, Canada, and United Kingdom between June 19, 2018, and November 30, 2019, enrolled 373 adults aged 18 to 75 years with a body mass index (BMI; calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared) of 25 to 45. Assessors were blinded to treatment conditions.

Interventions: A widely available commercial weight management program that included reduced requirements for dietary self-monitoring and recommendations for a variety of DIY approaches to weight loss.

Main outcomes and measures: The primary outcomes were the difference in weight change between the 2 groups at 3 and 12 months. The a priori hypothesis was that the commercial program would result in greater weight loss than the DIY approach at 3 and 12 months. Analyses were performed on an intention-to-treat basis.

Results: The study include 373 participants (272 women [72.9%]; mean [SD] BMI, 33.8 [5.2]; 77 [20.6%] aged 18-34 years, 74 [19.8%] aged 35-43 years, 82 [22.0%] aged 44-52 years, and 140 [37.5%] aged 53-75 years). At 12 months, retention rates were 88.8% (166 of 187) for the commercial weight management program group and 95.7% (178 of 186) for the DIY group. At 3 months, participants in the commercial program had a mean (SD) weight loss of -3.8 (4.1) kg vs -1.8 (3.7) kg among those in the DIY group. At 12 months, participants in the commercial program had a mean (SD) weight loss of -4.4 (7.3) kg vs -1.7 (7.3) kg among those in the DIY group. The mean difference between groups was -2.0 kg (97.5% CI, -2.9 to -1.1 kg) at 3 months (P < .001) and -2.6 kg (97.5% CI, -4.3 to -0.8 kg) at 12 months (P < .001). A greater percentage of participants in the commercial program group than participants in the DIY group achieved loss of 5% of body weight at both 3 months (40.7% [72 of 177] vs 18.6% [34 of 183]) and 12 months (42.8% [71 of 166] vs 24.7% [44 of 178]).

Conclusions and relevance: Adults randomly assigned to a commercial weight management program with reduced requirements for dietary self-monitoring lost more weight and were more likely to achieve weight loss of 5% at 3 and 12 months than adults following a DIY approach. This study contributes data on the efficacy of commercial weight management programs and DIY weight management approaches.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT03571893.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States
  • Weight Loss
  • Weight Reduction Programs*

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03571893